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Hunt expresses support for future of GP independent contractor status

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has spoken out in support of the GP independent contractor model, which he thinks is ‘benefitting the NHS’.

Speaking yesterday at the RCGP conference, Mr Hunt tore into Labour plans for more GPs to become salaried employees of integrated care organisations, revealed by Pulse last month, saying GPs’ ‘independence and flexibility’ was good for the health service.

He said: ‘I think it would be a big mistake to force GPs to become employees of local hospitals as members of integrated care organisations… The truth is there is no country in the world that has cracked integrated care. It would be a huge mistake to choose one model and force it on everyone. That would feel quite like a reorganisation, which is not a popular thing to do.’

Mr Hunt also said he wanted to increase GPs’ independence by further reducing performance targets and moving money into the global sum element of the GP contract. But in order to do this there had to be a ‘trade off’ with GPs publishing patient outcomes results to be held up to peer review scrutiny.

He said: I think we need to have flexibility but the corollary of flexibility is transparency of outcomes. If you have good data, transparency of outcomes, then it is much easier to give local areas the freedom to innovate, because we’ll always be tracking what the results of that are and we can step in if there are any problems.’

‘I would like to see us move towards a structure where this is a much larger sum of money in the global sum, in return for much greater transparency about patient outcomes. A much better way to improve patient outcomes is through collecting and using data in a smart way that allows intelligent peer review, which I think is a much more powerful way than linking things to contractual targets.’

The news comes as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens today announced to the same conference plans for hospital consultants to take stakes in GP partnerships in a bid to integrate primary and secondary care. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has suggested GP services are brought under hospital control.

Readers' comments (6)

  • are some of his pronouncements just a form of comedy that we have not detected??
    "Patient outcomes".....does this simpleton not understand that the key determinant of these is demographics!-deprivation and geography...not GPs.

    GPs in posh areas will look impressive and in deprivated areas crap but that has nothing to do with "family doctoring" as he irritatingly calls it and more to do with his policies of welfare cuts etc.

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  • Really Mr Hunt? But you employ directors at NHS England who have said the independent contractor model is anachronistic and that future provision will come from the hospitals, not from independent GPs.
    http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/commissioning-news/gp-partnerships-will-be-gone-in-ten-years-says-nhs-england-official/20007868.article

    So which is it Mr Hunt? You are just saying what you think each audience wants to hear.

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  • Saying all the right (ish) things but I don't believe a word he says. We are not that naive Mr Hunt!

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  • Bob Hodges

    The Secretary of State for Lolz strikes again. Nice one.

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  • Politicians say what ever audience they addressing want to hear Don't believe JH for one minute when he says supports hard working GP's Like Brutus-he standing in the wings to stab us in the back like all politicians. We have only ourselves to blame for shambles facing, as cant unite over anything and this is what politicians hoping for yet again. We are spineless creatures who so frightened of upsetting patients, due to our inadequate personalities ,that we succumb to anything to remain 'liked'. Just for once, unite as one against this onslaught against us as otherwise we actually wont have anything to fight for
    Look at personalities that become doctors-obsessive ,over conscientious, perfectionists who have such high expectations of ourselves that guaranteed to fail no matter how hard we work.
    Recognise we human and prone to human frailties and accept we cant be everything to everybody all the time. We also need time for ourselves and currently the job is so all consuming that we neglect our own health for fear being seen as 'weak' What a pathetic approach we have

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  • Sounds like he'll be off to a different department after the election despite saying he wants to stay. Priming youself for the big job doesn't mean staying health sec for years as the NHS always fails- People die, mistakes happen and it has to be someone's fault.
    NOTHING will change until we stop flogging ourselves and our staff to fulfil a totally flawed contract that the government tinkers with to save pennnies; but they must konw how cheap we are which is why the assault is a death by a 1000 cuts and not ready aim fire!

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