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Government has listened to GPs on seven-day opening, says NHS leader

GP concerns around seven-day opening have been taken on board by ministers and NHS England and could be incorporated into  the rescue package set to be announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt , NHS England’s head of general practice development has suggested.  

Dr Robert Varnam said in today’s keynote speech at the Pulse Live conference in London that managers and politicians understands that ‘sometimes we might need to wait’ before ‘doing more’, adding that GPs ’have had their voices heard’ and should ’see what the next few weeks bring’.

Dr Varnam’s comments come as health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to imminently make a big announcement about a rescue package for general practice, which was originally due in February.

Following his speech on reducing GP workload, Dr Varnam was told by GP delegates that NHS England and politicians needed to stop giving patients the message that they should see their GP for everything, feeding demand.

But Dr Varnam responded: ‘I’m not a politician and I have not, I’m afraid, got any ability to change national perspectives [or] narratives [but] some of that has been heard, I think, by politicians.

‘On the question on seven-day opening or seven-day services, actually I think the views of the profession have been heard.’

He added: ‘I would say, let’s see what the next few weeks bring.’

As previously reported by Pulse, the Department of Health has proposed a £110m rescue package of measures for GPs, including a refreshed retainers scheme and more than 100 ‘golden hellos’ to tempt GP trainees to work in hard-to-recruit areas.

Dr Varnam also said he ‘would like to see’ NHS England put resources in place for GP practices to get support to implement some of the changes that he recommended in his talk to reduce workload.

These included for example active signposting of patients, new consultation types, reducing DNAs, developing the team, social prescribing and paretnership working.

Readers' comments (22)

  • i don't trust anyone associated with NHSE

    active signposting of patients - we already do,
    new consultation types ???,
    reducing DNAs - no no no - these are the only breaks i get,
    developing the team ???,
    social prescribing - no no no - we are clinicians ?
    and paretnership working - what does this even mean ?.

    business speak and confusing - they will impose 7 day working - we know it - this is all smoke and mirrors.

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  • so... a GP somewhere thinks that some of GP's concerns may have been heard by politicians. How is this headline news?
    even more dispiriting is that he also hopes to see NHSE to "put resources and support" (primary care).
    Well, if its down to NHSE- do not expect anything good.
    I have first hand experience of their "support" for my Practice. Can't say they were overtly malicious. Just incompetent. But their support and advice got us in a lot of trouble. Scared to think what this lot may "achieve" if they suddenly felt the need to "support" the whole of primary care.

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  • Vinci Ho

    ‘I’m not a politician and I have not, I’m afraid, got any ability to change national perspectives [or] narratives [but] some of that has been heard, I think, by politicians.'

    My take is for all those 'protagonists' , it is a time to distance themselves away from this bunch of politicians with haemorrhages of credibility . It was then. This is now. How cruel is reality! How toxic is politics !

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  • 110million isn't enough to "save " general practice. It is just for making sound bites and DoH spin.
    This is a shame because without effective general practice much of taxpayers money will be wasted.

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  • Could not,would not, must not recommend GP land. It is awful, degrading, full of penance, neglect, complaints, CQC [ a complete nightmare = would not subject anybody to that lot of complete bullies], GMC etc.
    Save GPs? Best that nightmare is folded and gone.

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  • Dr Robert Varnham, Head of General Practice for NHS England is a politician. He might want to deny it but that's the simple fact.
    And to put £110million in context, it's roughly 1% of the total GP Practice budget so it probably won't go very far

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  • More spin( lies in English )
    Trust has long ago gone
    Actions not words
    We await with not so bated breath from a totally discredited misguided administration

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  • Basically NHSE and Hunt want / intend to force thousands of corner shopkeepers (GPs) to become 7-eleven stores (GP federations / Corporations..Virgin...Care UK).

    Corner shopkeepers have to be bought out.

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  • Did you notice those government ears cocking up and waving to you? It was a listening 'exercise' of the ears and as always nothing will come out of it. Being cynical? Hardly.

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  • Corner shop keepers should be bought or forced out???
    The government is very selective about which electoral pledges it keeps isnt it...

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