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Talks on GP out-of-hours responsibility to begin this year, says NHS England

Exclusive Talks over how GPs will take back responsibility for out-of-hours care for their patients could begin within weeks, as part of the 2014/2015 contract negotiations between NHS England and the GPC, Pulse can reveal.

NHS England has confirmed that accountability for out-of-hours care will be part of contract negotiations this year, following Jeremy Hunt’s statement last week where he suggested that the GP contract would have to change to hand back responsibility for patients’ out-of-hours care to general practice.

Pulse revealed earlier today that six out of ten GPs would consider resigning if the Government forces GPs to take back out-of-hours responsibility and that an overwhelming majority believe the GPC should make it clear such proposals are ‘unacceptable’ without waiting for further detail to emerge.

Asked whether NHS England has been briefed on Government plans for GPs to resume out of hours responsibility, and whether it backed proposals, deputy director for primary care Dr Mike Bewick said NHS England supported the plans and was planning to begin talks later this year.

Dr Bewick said: ‘We work closely with the Department of Health at all times, and support the principle that GPs to take on greater accountability for ensuring appropriate and effective out-of-hours arrangements.’

However he repeated health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s statement from last week that it woud not have to mean GPs providing the out-of-hours care personally.

He said: ‘This does not mean a return to GPs being personally responsible for evening and weekend on-call delivery – it does, however, mean an opportunity for GPs to develop the more integrated care that we all know is central to ensuring balanced, sustainable NHS services.

‘We look forward to working with the GPC during contract negotiations for 2014/15 which should bring us closer to this shared goal.’

GP contract negotiations last year began in June - meaning discussions could be held between the GPC and NHS England’s representatives at NHS Employers within a matter of weeks.

The GPC’s negotiating position is set against GPs resuming out-of-hours responsibility, after an LMCs conference vote last week cemented strong opposition in the profession. GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the move was ‘perplexing’.

He said: ‘I find it perplexing that the Government and NHS England speak in these terms because GPs by virtue of CCGs and commissioning are already responsible for out of hours. As such, I don’t follow the logic of making it part of contractual negotiations. It would make more sense to look at how CCGs can be better enabled to commission out-of-hours care.’

He added: ‘We are pleased that the Government is not talking about GPs going back to out-of-hours provision, especially against the strong and unequivoval message sent by GPs [against such plans] at the LMCs Conference.’

Readers' comments (16)

  • I think there is a world of difference between CCG as a statutory body being responsible and me personally being responsible. I may be a part of the membership organization but that doesn't make me accountable for any failure causing patients harm. I won't be called up in front of GMC or the criminal court for manslaughter. If the government makes me personally responsible it may well do.

    The point of doing this? I suspect DoH plans to drive out the GPs to break Primary care and eventually NHS to put an end to free at point of delivery health care.

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  • @Anonymous | 28 May 2013 8:52pm who wrote "I suspect DoH plans to drive out the GPs to break Primary care and eventually NHS to put an end to free at point of delivery health care."

    You're wrong.No one is going to drive out GPs because they're cheap.The DoH just want's them to work more for less.Making the public pay will be the death sentence of any political party.Remember that the British public are like heroine addicts.They're addicted to free at point of delivery of everything.All rights and no responsibilities.And talk of making them pay sends them into withdrawal fits!

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  • i've said it before and i'll say it again. Very glad that the scottish government appears to have more sense than the muppets running things in England

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  • Anon 10:46pm,

    I disagree. The reason why they are setting us up for failure is to shield themselves from public criticism when this happens. Jeremy Hunt may be unpleasant but not completely stupid - he knows very well his actions are driving GP moral down to the point of breaking the profession. in his speech, he agreed NHS activity is increasing hy 4% per year and funding has flatlined. NHS is a welfare system and it is becoming more obvious overly generous welfare system does not work - you can see this across many countries in Europe.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the aim is to have tiered system of health care, depending on the patient's ability to pay, as many other countries have. Free but inadequately resourced healthcare, partially subsidized and similarly resourced to current healthcare, and completely private healthcare.

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  • As a current medical student soon to start F1, one of the most appealing aspects of a GP career is precisely the reduced on-call hours; take this away and far fewer will go into primary care. Since I'm a poor student at the moment I'm less concerned about money and more about work-life balance, so I'd take a pay cut in order to avoid OoH work. At a time when everyone is struggling: normal jobs, public jobs like teachers and police are paid pittance, while banks (not bankers) privatise profits and socialise losses with money (debt) expansion, I think its time to focus on why we chose medicine in the first place. If I can't afford the luxurious middle-class life I'd hoped in order to sustain a functional NHS, so be it. Better to be a poorer (happier) doctor in a caring country than a rich one in somewhere like the US. Just my thoughts at this stage in training.

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  • to anonymous@12:11pm.
    I admire your optimism and if you do go in to general practice, the very best of british luck to you. Unfortunately, give it a couple of years and you will be just as jaded and cynical as the rest of us.

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