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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)

  • Harry Longman

    See this as a positive move, government apologising for past mistakes, and name your price: abandon NHS111, WICs, UCCs, NHSD and let the GPs do a proper job, as the professionals best placed to provide the highest quality service.

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  • I agree with Dr Nagpaul - we already have been given back responsibility via CCGs. Not sure how much more responsibility we can get! Certainly this has already been discussed and commissioning plans put forward. I suspect that it is possibly more to do with finance and cover than the actual service but am happy to be proved to being cynical.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    I worry that Mr Hunt does not understand the system. So here it is, Mr Hunt:
    1. your government passed the Health and Social Care Act 2012
    2. In this Act, YOU set up CCGs in England.
    3. CCGs are groups of practices (doctors, Mr Hunt)
    4. CCGs have responsibility for commissioning out of hours care. This means GPs are ALREADY responsible for OOH care.

    Now, let's talk sensibly about what DOES need to be changed.

    Incidentally, I see Scottish and Welsh practices having much less problem in GP recruitment in fhe future.......

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  • So LMC is trying to say we won't have it back but the government is already asking how we would like it back.

    We are on a loosing battle I tell ya

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  • >See this as a positive move, government apologising for past mistakes

    I'm sorry but this is unbelievably naive. The govt will do what it always does - things will be well funded and fine for the first year, then the budgets etc will fall and fall, with ridiculous new targets being introduced and we'll be left carrying the can. Take a look at QOF and you'll understand.

    The profession MUST say 'no' to this - otherwise this is going to destroy general practice.

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  • Retirement beckons, not just for me but for all Drs in this practice over 50 as soon as kids through university

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  • It seems so inefficient to make individual practices responsible for OOH when the CCGs already are: how much clout does a single practice have over a contract they have not awarded?
    Like everyone else, I agree that the agenda is to force the GPs to perform as well as be responsible for OOH cover.
    btw are the recommendations of the Carson report 2000 (which led to the nGMS contract having a *whole practice* opt out - or not - provision) still apply?

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  • Isn't it strange how there has been no coverage on the difficulties patients face obtaining routine NHS dental care, let alone the impossibility of accessing dental care out of hours.

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  • The government know full well that the emotional pressure on individual practices to provide OOH cover for their own patients will be enormously greater than the pressure on a collective CCG. They also know that a patient who is not happy with the care they receive is more likely to complain to their practice than the CCG.
    Yes, we will end up doing it ourselves on a rota basis, and even if we use a deputising service we will be required to fill gaps.
    2 partners in our practice leaving in the next year.....

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  • when will this nonsense stop.I know personally few GP's died prematurely in taking the stress of calls in the night and carrying on day work.Do people realise how hard we work during day-hardly get chance to have lunch break! by 6' clock brain battery is nearly zero.we were doing well with our GP co operatives but Govt. wanted to set up this 111 formula-let Govt. take over this out of hrs.responsibility all together.NOW IT IS TIME TO SAY OPENLEY __ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

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