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GPC negotiator threatens to report health minister to the GMC

Exclusive A GPC negotiator has written to health minister Dr Dan Poulter threatening to report him to the GMC over his recent remarks regarding GP out-of-hours care.

Dr Peter Holden, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, has given Dr Poulter until today to withdraw comments he made to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in which he claimed that GP out-of-hours care had been ‘scrapped’ and said people turn up at A&E at times when they don’t have access to their GP.

Dr Holden told Pulse that he has asked Dr Poulter to explain why he should not refer the health minister to the GMC for ‘reducing [doctors’] standing with the public, and reducing the public confidence in the profession’.

Dr Poulter told the BBC: ‘There isn’t the community-based care that there used to be, thanks to the previous Government scrapping the GP out-of-hours system and that has put a lot of pressure on the system.

‘It means that we are in a much more difficult place to deal with and actually better help people who could be better looked after at home in their community, and indeed divert less serious cases, for example someone with a sore throat, who would normally turn up to their GP, they are now sort of being forced to turn up at A&E because they haven’t got a GP to see out of hours.’

However, Dr Holden claimed that these remarks were damaging to the profession and could be misleading to patients, and said he intended to report Dr Poulter to the GMC unless a clarification was forthcoming.

He wrote: ‘None of them would believe mitigating circumstances such as poor briefing, so could you explain to me within 48 hours why I should not make the reference?’

He later told Pulse: ‘In the post-Francis era of openness, transparency and candour, my own registration is on the line if I don’t report it.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Dr Dan Poulter is both a health minister and a doctor. In the interview he praised the NHS for doing “wonderfully well” even during difficult times.’

‘He was clearly not blaming GPs themselves for a lack of out-of-hours services, but referring to the GP contract which ties GPs to working practices that could be much better suited to modern demands - especially an aging population with more complex needs.’

Readers' comments (33)

  • Vinci Ho

    Mmmmmm, tasty. II think we need to be a bit more 'creative ' and 'imaginative ' in this War against Bullies.....

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  • All GP must vote on Thursday! Aware it's only local elections, but vote! Tell your family members and colleagues too! Send them a message

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  • As far as I am aware all areas have OOH cover provided - however people may find it easier just to go to A&E rather than struggle through 111.
    The previous government is responsible for the change in GP working practices but in real terms society is responsible for the demands placed on OOH , a lack of the ability to cope with an unwell child who must go to school/childminder so that the parents can go to work, mild self limiting problems and the culture of 24/7 availability of every aspect of one's life means that the demand for OOH will not go away.
    I would report him to the GMC , the public will pick up on the inference that GPs are not providing a service rather than understand the details.
    It is time to make OOH a subspecialty of GP - Unscheduled Primary Care and develop the subject and integrate it into Primary care provision.

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  • Peter Holden needs to think carefully before doing this sort of thing - Dr Poulter has his detractors but so also has the good Dr Holden. Ultimately he risks undermining the GPC credibility if he is not careful.

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  • This petulant proposal by a so-called negotiator can only make the situation deteriorate further. He would be advised to engage in dialogue and 'negotiate' rather than try to use the GMC as a bludgeon to further his agenda.

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  • There will be no progress on this matter until an adult conversation with the public takes place about appropriate use of emergency services. That conversation would need to be supported by politicians (which it will never be) and the perverse incentives of OOH attracting business needs to be removed. I have spent nearly 30 years educating patients and almost at a stroke UCC's and WIC's have reversed all of that.

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  • Time to develop proper services. Day time GP services providing usual care and prevention say 08.30 - 17.30. Clear roles and resposnibilities. Night time GP services to be for emergencies and urgent care over two shifts in larger centres or maybe outside of a hospital with all patients triaged to appropriate clinicians. Joined up Primary Care with GPs knowing what their working hours are and have time to rest knowing OOH is sorted by a different group of GPs.

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  • Don't use the public as fodder for your own agenda....it is likely to backfire when people know very well that GPs in large enough numbers were prepared to sacrifice a professional ethic for money, money money whilst claiming a special caring relationship with 'the public'

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  • Paul Shenton has it in a nutshell. Who will struggle through the interminable 111 questions when they can easily go to A+E or another provider who is actually paid per consultaion? And all because politicians have told the public that they can have what they want when they want it. [I paraphrase] with no thought as to the resources necessary to achieve this. As a practice we worked in a small coop to cover ooh until 6y ago - it was a good service but totally unsustainable now taking into consideration rising patient expectations and the hugely increased in-hours workload.

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