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Patients must be responsible when using seven-day services, says minister

Patients must take responsibility for using GP appointments effectively if general practice is to deliver the Government’s ambitions on seven-day working, according to health minister Alistair Burt.

Mr Burt, who is the Government’s lead on primary care, said patients will be better informed than ever on health conditions and self-care, and it was part of a ‘bargain’ in healthcare that they did not present a burden to the NHS.

Speaking at a fringe session hosted by the RCGP at the Conservative party conference this week, Mr Burt again parroted the Government’s assumption that current working hours mean patients don’t have access to health treatment ‘when they need it’.

Earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt offered a ‘new deal’ to general practice which would see a round of much-needed investment if GPs take on extended hours and weekend opening.

Mr Burt told delegates: ‘Everyone in this room knows that we all fall ill at different times and that outcomes should be different if you fall ill in the middle of the week to the weekend – it can’t be right.

‘That is going to change; we expect to have access to health treatment when we need it. This goes with a number of consequences: firstly, there is a responsibility on people themselves.’

He explained that GPs he had talked with explained their frustration at appointments being used for non-clinical issues, or self-limiting conditions, and said: ‘I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, there is a bargain here in health. That is, we do our bit and we can expect the doctors and clinicians to do theirs.

‘And I think greater responsibility of patients goes with the territory – they will be better informed than ever before, they will have more services available to them than ever before.’

Earlier this year support group Resilient GP released 200 accounts from GPs of times when patients had used appointments inappropriately, though some GP leaders raised concerns that patients were being blamed for a system that stokes demand.

Readers' comments (31)

  • So will there be a mechanism to hold patients responsible?

    I thought so.

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  • The NHS is facing a funding crisis the likes of which has 'never been seen' and they want to extend the non emergency core service hours of general practice for the sake of 'consumer convenience' by 30% without additional money

    If folk are so well informed and self sufficient why can't a medical 'non emergency' that arises on Saturday at 2pm' wait in till Monday?

    People can't get to see a GP already because the 5 day service is totally underfunded. Extending it to 7 days without additional funding will just make it worse...and discourage self care.

    Wazoks

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  • Somewhere between naive, stupid and clueless. Its free so it will be used and abused. Like the three people that DNA'd my morning surgery one of whom demanded the appointment an hour before.

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  • lol?

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  • "they we’ll have more services available to them than ever before". And the £1billion pound total Trust deficit run up already in 3 months is going to allow that.

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  • Mr Burt told delegates: ‘Everyone in this room knows that we all fall ill at different times and that outcomes should be different if you fall ill in the middle of the week to the weekend – it can’t be right.....OOH has been dealing with this for 67years thats nothing to do with routine care 7 days a week. Do these people actually understand elective and urgent care???

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • So.. Mr smartypants is ignoring all the huge amount of evidence that suggests that patients completely abused previous on call services (e.g. ringing for antibiotics at 3am when all pharmacies are closed anyway), inappropriately request home visits on weekends by OOH teams because they can't be bothered to get out of bed, don't bother to sort their medications out during the week and wait till saturday 2pm to get a repeat prescription...oh and the huge fact that all the PM challenge fund practices are winding down their 7 day services because of lack of interest and demand?

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  • If government is concerned re ooh care, simply increase the funding or minimum levels of cover. Why does this need a new contract?

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  • A bit like telling children to to have any sweeties when their is a bit pile in front of them,and then leaving the room to see what happens.

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  • Dear Editor
    This article says it has 9 comments. I can see none. This is happening on multiple articles. I am signed in.

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  • Hi there,

    Thanks for your comment. The point you raise concerning the reader comments not showing up is something that we are aware of, and the website team is investigating it.

    Joe Davis,
    Digital Producer, Pulse

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