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Hunt brushes off concerns around GP mass resignation

Exclusive Jeremy Hunt has brushed off the threat of GP mass resignations while defending the Government’s austerity policies.

Asked by Pulse whether he is worried about another dispute with doctors, the health secretary said GPs were already getting ‘billions’ in the GP Forward View settlement.

It comes as Mr Hunt has yet to conclude a trade dispute with junior doctors about a new contract and after GP leaders voted last month to canvass GPs on their willingness to submit undated resignations unless outstanding GPC demands are met - above and beyond what NHS England promised in the GP Forward View.

But Mr Hunt simply responded that he has already pledged increases to the GP budget.

He told Pulse: 'The GP Forward View we announced does indeed announce and involve a multibillion-pound increase in investment in general practice, and an increase in the proportion of NHS resources going to general practice.

'This is something I have long campaigned for as health secretary, I fought for the money in the spending review, to deliver that change. And indeed I think it has been welcomed by the BMA and [GPC chair Dr] Chaand Nagpaul.'

Mr Hunt also shot down GPC's urgent call for a larger proportion of GDP to be spent on healthcare - a demand Dr Nagpaul is repeating in a speech at the BMA's Annual Representative Meeting today.

He said: 'I happen to be someone who believes that we will need to see significant increases in investment in the NHS in coming decades, and indeed in the social care system, as we grapple with the challenges of an ageing population.

'But, and I don’t want to be party political here, I also believe that the only way to do that is a strong economy, and that we do need therefore to control our national deficit.

‘And mathematically, if you have a taxpayer-funded system where healthcare is the biggest controlled item of Government expenditure across the whole of Government, then you will see if you are tackling a deficit a fall in GDP over the period that you are tackling that deficit. And that is why all of the political parties’ plans at the last election did involve for this period while we are tackling a national deficit, a fall in the proportion of GDP going into healthcare.

‘But the upshot of this will be an economy that is able, I believe, to fund significant increases in spending for the NHS.'

Dr Nagpaul said today that underfunding of general practice means GPs are currently working under ‘unsafe’ conditions. But in stark contrast to this, Mr Hunt said that ‘actually improving quality and safety is part of the solution to our financial problems, and not one of the problems’.

Mr Hunt said: 'I am absolutely convinced that we will call this turbulent period in the NHS’s history - this challenging period – the quality decade.’

Mr Hunt was speaking at a conference at The King’s Fund this morning, focused on how the NHS can improve quality and save money at the same time.

A DH spokesperson later said: 'We disagree with Pulse’s reporting of this. We want to make sure GPs are supported and funded to do the best job for their patients. That’s why we are recruiting more and as the health secretary said, we are putting more funding into the profession through the GP Forward View. That’s not being dismissive nor is it defending austerity.'

This story was updated at 12:10 on 23 June 2016 to include the quote from the Department of Health

Readers' comments (30)

  • Hilarious. Black is white.
    He will have now helped make up the mind of any who were in 2 minds.
    Bring on the headlines and the media volcano.

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  • The GP Forward View says that money will be spent but it isn't making it to the front line. Our CCG has worked so hard to try to implement the GP Forward View ideals but no-one it seems can prise the capital from NHSE who hold onto it for most of the year. Our MP came to our meeting in Swindon - he supports us. Where is NHS England's support?

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  • Mr Hunt argued that 'a fall in the proportion of GDP going into healthcare' was 'mathematically' an inevitable consequence of 'tackling a deficit' in a 'taxpayer-funded system where healthcare is the biggest controlled item of Government expenditure'

    Then tell your PM to stop giving away countless millions to any third world pop up county with their hand out (like India errr they have a space program and we still give AID????)our money and stop paying money to the EU for all the uncollected Health costs that other countries do not pay us back for... Actually just stop giving the EU any of our money, then we can decide who in this county gets what.....But that as they say is another story.which will ,play out tomorrow. very exciting.

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  • Hunt consistently fails to engage with the profession to find real solutions to very real problems that we are facing day in day out. The threat of mass resignation is not just a threat, it seriously can happen.

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  • "The GP Forward View we announced does indeed announce and involve a multibillion-pound increase in investment in general practice, and an increase in the proportion of NHS resources going to general practice."
    Over the whole country, over five years, "backloaded" to 2019/20 (election year) and if you believe in it at all. None will come to practices except where it supports working a scale and MCPs. NHSE have spoken about there being fewer "delivery points" for primary care and have no interest in "saving" practices that stand in the way of the new tomorrow. This will of course turn out to be less effective, more expensive and offer a worse service. Thank goodness things are getting better and better every day!

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  • Peter Swinyard

    |Anonymous | NHS Manager|22 Jun 2016 4:59pm is right. I was at that meeting. NHSE are persistently NOT releasing funds already agreed which were applied for last December. Disgraceful delay. They are only interested in commissioning 5 new APMS practices in Swindon while existing GMS/PMS are starved of resources and doctors and are falling over or about to fall over. The lack of intelligence and grasp of the situation of some NHSE managers would be shocking were we not used to dealing with them in their previous incarnations in PCTs and health authorities. Any activity can be criticised. So the consequence is that is is safer for them to do nothing than to do something.

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  • I fail to understand the threat of mass resignation when dribble resignation is already present. GPs leaving retiring locuming and emigrating plus no applicants for many GP training posts plus no applicants for partnerships plus practices closing.This seems to be a perect storm. At some point things are going to fracture and that will not be pretty.
    When you have a green stick fractured radius in a child sometimes you have to break the other cortex to get a good reduction. The NHS seems to have a green stick fracture. Is the profession courageous enough to break the other cortex to achieve a good result?

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  • Omg It Is Him

    Dear Mr Hunt- call it a threat as you would say so - This time -we mean business. - WE must do it.

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) Not interested in his opinion at all . In fact , Nigel, you are giving him the attention on which he always thrives by reporting this . The job of making any official announcement has been handed over to Simon.
    (2) One has to 'understand' the psychology of all these subordinates in NHSE : in time like this , do less means less mistakes,do nothing means no mistake . That is the rule of thumb of all bureaucrats .
    (3)Slight gut feeling this is his swan song.,...

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  • don't blame him - remember he is backed up 100% by the RCGP and the RCGP is backed up by 50,000 members !

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