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Gold, incentives and meh

All practices to ensure their patients 'have opportunity' to access seven-day services by 2020

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it will fall on GP practices to ensure their patients can book routine GP appointments 8am-8pm, seven days a week by 2020 – even if they do not provide it themselves.

Questioned today by the House of Commons health committee, Mr Hunt promised that he would write to ‘every GP practice’ in the country this year to inform them of how much money the Government plans to spend on general practice.

He said this would follow the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review later this year, and would clarify what savings the Government is expecting NHS England to achieve and how the NHS would access the extra promised £8bn funding.

The health secretary emphasised that he was not expecting every GP practice to provide seven-day routine access.

However, he added: ‘What we are saying is that every practice needs to offer its patients the opportunity to have routine appointments 8am-8pm in the week and over the weekend.

‘But that might be at a neighbouring practice, it may be via Skype, or it might be through some federated arrangement.’

Mr Hunt said he thought this was ‘achievable by the end of this Parliament’ in 2020, and that some GPs may choose to offer enhanced access by ‘recruiting extra help to offer those services so that they don’t themselves work in the evenings and weekends’.

Asked how much he thought the rollout of seven-day access would cost, Mr Hunt claimed he projected it in the ‘hundreds of millions rather than billions’.

However, the RCGP has said the Government’s plans could cost ‘over £1bn per year’.

The health secretary also said that there would be greater clarity about spending on general practice after the Government-wide Comprehensive Spending Review later this autumn, and that the ‘transformation of general practice’ was among the priorities on his list of requests to the Treasury.

The plans to transform general practice include the new models of care described in the NHS Five Year Forward View, and the recruitment of 5,000 extra GPs.

This would help the NHS save ‘potentially 20% of the £22bn savings that we need to find in the NHS in England’, by ‘catching illnesses earlier’.

He said ‘that means backing GPs in doing what they do better than everyone else’.

Mr Hunt said: ‘My intention is that at the end of the year, or thereabouts, we will write to every GP surgery, post the spending round, so that we can actually say to people we now have a settlement with the Treasury, this is the spending profile for the next few years, this is how you can see investment going into general practice and this is how we’re going to address those problems.’

He said: ‘It is really giving them the ability to restore that sense of vocation in what they do… restoring the magic of general practice. That is what we need to do.’

Readers' comments (51)

  • We offer 24 hr service 365 days but pay to get cover
    What different service is needed

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  • The problem GP'S have is with the BMA and RCGP.
    We pay our fees and they have not protected us, the patient or the NHS.
    The BMA needs to say what it is possible for each GP to provide, and the time and money this will require.
    They need to make sure that GP's are paid properly for this.
    The governement can then decide what the country can afford to purchase.
    It is for the governement to get the doctors as well, if there are not enough for the level of care they need.
    It is ridiculous to expect human beings to work 12 hours a day in such a pressurised environment. It is clearly unsafe and damaging to our health.
    The fact that we still pay money to the BMA and RCGP says something about us as a group.And I thought that we were supposed to be intelligent.

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  • BMA and RCGP are just like UN in maintaining peace in the world.America can act on his own and doesnt need ratification by other member states.I think Mr Hunt is acting as Uncle SAM here.

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  • In 2020, if the NHS still exists, the next headline will be "All practices to ensure their patients 'have opportunity' to access seven-day services by 2040."

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  • So what about the evidence from the pilots that, by and large, this wasn't cost effective and wasn't what the public wanted. Oh no, wait, we're not interested in evidence, we're just interested in ideology...

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  • at this rate Jeremy Hunt will be manning the surgeries himself on the weekends and evenings.

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  • We need to be able to provide appts 8-8 Sat/Sun. Does not mean, we have to see half the world those days. Routine stuff only. Just take a day off during the week and work either Sat/Sun. Usual working day, same old stuff, perhaps catch up on paperwork etc. No visits though!

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  • Sorry, forgot to add above. This is coming regardless. Best gear up. This is aimed at 2020 so even Labour will want a piece of it as the public and daily mail readers love it.

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  • Only a problem for small practices who do not merge and scale up in time.

    The rest is just fluff.

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  • Jeremy, do you really believe your own ...hype.
    I see referring to 'vocation' when what you mean is, 'work longer hours for less pay', you obviously think if you call it 'vocation' we'll let you continue to shaft general practitioners, and abuse the rest of the medical profession. You managed it with extended hours, when you effective cut our wages. I know your kind, just like a phoney american evangelical preacher.

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