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Hunt reaffirms commitment to seven-day GP services

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has reaffirmed NHS England's mandate to ensure evening and weekend access to GP appointments, despite the resignation of David Cameron from the Prime Minister post.

In a written ministerial statement yesterday, Mr Hunt said that he expected NHS England to 'make further progress' on the 'priority' of rolling out the seven-day NHS commitment including 'to improve access to GP services, particularly in evenings and at the weekends'.

GP leaders said the continuation of the policy was 'idiocy'.

The reaffirmation comes after a senior policy adviser on NHS England's new GP models told Pulse that seven-day routine GP appointments would not be anybody's priority following Mr Cameron's resignation.

Mr Cameron had famously championed the rollout of weekend and evening GP appointments for the convenience of working people and in a bid to reduce A&E use.

This came despite resistance from the GPC and the wider BMA, which has urged the Government to instead focus on stabilising five-day routine general practice and existing out-of-hours services by proper resourcing.

But one week after being reappointed to new Prime Minister Theresa May's Government, Mr Hunt has firmly shut down any prospect of the policy being abandoned.

Mr Hunt’s statement said: 'The mandate for 2015/16 emphasised that the NHS should be there when people need it; providing equally good care seven days of the week.

'I look to you to continue to support the NHS to deliver the same high quality urgent and emergency care regardless of when patients need to use services and to improve access to GP services, particularly in evenings and at the weekends.

'I welcome the progress that you have made this year and I expect you to continue working together with your system partners in order to make further progress on this priority, in line with the Government’s mandate for 2016-17 and our longer term goals for 2020.'

But Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said: 'It is just confoundedly idiotic.

'There is no funding sufficient in the health service, there is no staffing sufficient in the health service, to provide a five-day service that is good. And to try and spread out the resources we have for providing a five-day service to provide a seven-day service is beyond ridiculous.

He added about Mr Hunt: 'I just find him very difficult to work with because he will not listen to and respond to rational and reasoned argument.'

It comes after Sir Sam Everington, NHS England’s national adviser on new models of primary care, had predicted that a new Cabinet would listen to GP leaders and instead prioritise urgent care on weekends.

A committee of influential MPs also warned this week that the funding for seven-day GP appointments would have to come from somewhere else in the NHS budget, by cuts to other services.

Readers' comments (53)

  • Here goes this idiot again. Are we surprised ???
    But it only confirms one thing even new Tory leader wants same outcome" death of NHS" . Mr Hunt has been kept in post to complete the job which he has been trying to do for last few years .

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  • To err is human, to err deliberately is a Hunt.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Luke 23:34 refers

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  • Many 'Mandates' 0n 2015 election has been withdrawn e.g limitation of imigration numbers etc etc - Mr Hunt this mandate of 7 day full NHS- is history now- you need to be history - go man.

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  • Clearly devoid of "reality" and lives on a different space time continuum to the rest of us mere mortals.

    Alternatively if he is taking anything can I have some?

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  • "There is nothing more dangerous than a resourceful idiot" by Douglas ADAMS

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  • Anyone unfortunate enough to work in the nhs knows it is in it death throws . Demand is now beyond rediculous , let alone sustainable . Expectation beyond reasonable , morale rock bottom and funding critically lagging behind . We can have a 7 day nhs . We can't afford it . There will be very few left to staff it and inevitably it will be privatised . An industry that will boom due to the high level of health anxiety we have propagated and the complete lack of self care we have unwittingly encouraged . God help us all when the public at large realise how completely they have been mislead .

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  • Is Mr Hunt a distant relative of King Canute? He seems to share some of his traits of self importance and lack of reality!

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  • How this improves access when we dont have enough GP's to man a five day week is beyond me! And as for reducing A&E attendance - it will increase A&E attendance with our overwoked GP's being admitted from sheer exhaustion! but of course - they are not patients themselves - just robots!

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  • A tale of two Jeremies.
    One of them is a bullying self-abuser living in a world of make-believe (allegedly)
    The other is........not. Allegedly. Because this is a family newspaper.

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