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Jeremy Hunt thanks GPs for ensuring patient safety during junior doctor strikes

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has thanked GPs for keeping patients safe during this week’s junior doctor industrial action.

In a letter published by the Department of Health, Mr Hunt included GPs in a list of NHS staff who he thought were ‘a credit to our world-class NHS’.

The note comes after Tuesday and Wednesday saw junior doctors - including GP registrars - go on an all-out strike for the first time in the history of the NHS, including withdrawing urgent and emergency care.

Mr Hunt said he would ‘like to pay tribute to the NHS staff that have once again pulled out all the stop to keep services running effectively during industrial action’.

He said: ’I want to thank the thousands of dedicated nurses, doctors, paramedics, GPs, therapises, care workers and other healthcare professionals that have planned for weeks, worked long hours and pulled together to ensure services remained safe this week.

‘You are a credit to our world-class NHS.’

In a statement to Parliament on the junior doctor strikes earlier this week, Mr Hunt said NHS England had ’asked GP practices and other primary care providers in some areas to extend their opening hours so patients can continue to get the important, but non-emergency, care such as follow-ups and assessments, they need’.

Meanwhile, NHS England had told the public that there would be ‘extra primary care and GP response/appointment availability’ during the strike, but it told Pulse that any extra resource had to be committed regionally.

Pulse was only able to find one example of this, from NHS England in London, which said there would be ’4,100 extra appointments available in extended primary care, for example through primary care hubs across London’.

Elsewhere, NHS England regional teams had urged practices not to pre-book appointments on the days of the strike to ensure there was capacity for extra patients.

What next for the junior doctor contract dispute?

Following the conclusion of the historic two-day strike, the BMA’s Junior Doctor Committee chair Dr Johann Malawana placed the ball in Mr Hunt’s court by renewing calls for the Government to withdraw the imposition of the junior doctor contract.

He said yesterday: ’What happens next is in the Government’s hands. It cannot continue to ignore the tens of thousands of junior doctors opposed to this contract and who want to end this dispute through talks.

‘I have written to [the] health secretary calling on him again to lift the imposition, re-enter talks and address junior doctors’ outstanding concerns which are about much more than just pay.’

But the thank you note appears to have been the only public mention of the strikes from Mr Hunt today.


Readers' comments (60)

  • "World class NHS" this phrase correct?
    If he is relating this to a free service then maybe he is right. However simple example my sister recently saw a professor of endocrinology referred for a gallium scan which she had within 2 days and the results the following day on review by the professor. Brand new machine excellent service and extremely quick efficient and thorough care.
    guess what. ....This was all done privately.
    I referred patient with sciatica and pmh of breast cancer for an urgent mri scan....ok we do have access locally. ...
    despite a few phone calls by an irate doc (moi) to expedite the mri scan the patient eventually had it done within 2 weeks (ok guys I know that there are areas in the UK where this just ain't happening) but how long do i have to wait for the result.
    Nearly 4 weeks...despite many phone calls.
    WE DO NOT HAVE A WORLD CLASS NHS WE HAVE A SERVICE DONE ON THE CHEAP that is dysfunctional. It is not safe and services are imploding. However I am not sure that a private health service could cope with the demands of the health of thepublic
    GP is imploding due to all the reasons that so many have stated on this forum now and in the past.

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  • I have noticed that at educational meetings the speaker only has to put up a picture of Jeremy Hunt to get the audience to laugh now.
    I hope the Junior Doctors keep up the strike momentum. The NHS does need some changes, mostly to the health seeking behaviour of patients and how 'perfect' the care from a health professional must be given the far from 'perfect' working conditions. We need some honesty about the situation of a limited resource and unlimited demand.
    It is not unreasonable for highly skilled professionals working in a physically and mentally demanding job to require reasonable working conditions, and good pay. If either are missing the doctors will either leave the country or not enter the profession in the first place.

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  • We do have a world class NHS under MR Hunt!

    Mid staffs, southern cross healthcare and many other failings that have not made headlines.

    Resign Mr Hunt- all this under your watch! and many more to come?

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  • medicine tastes awful

    This SOS for 'health' is a joke.

    Must watch--

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  • I will respond with two words only as rushing/struggling to see all my patients this AM. PM entertainment to follow

    One word pertains to travel and the other word to copulation.

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  • Wouldnt you just like to SLAP HIS STUPID FACE!
    Why oh why doesnt he just resign NOW, and take Cameron and Osborne with him.

    As GPs we cannot strike in the conventional way, but I am desperate to be canvassed on signing undated resignations, and to put pen to paper.

    I dont know of any mention of NHSE or CCG pleading with GPs to put on more appointments, or not book in advance on the strike days.

    We made no extra contingencies in advance, had our Wednesday half-day closing as normal in the capable hands of our 'opted-in' OOH provider, and generally have had the quietest 2 days in months, for reasons that I just cannot explain. Had two home visit requests all week, and NO admissions.

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  • He's got no idea has he? - Doesn't seem to be too popular either

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  • Is there no limit to this objectionable man's weasel words? I think we all understand the concept of divide and rule and are unlikely to allow such cynical tactics to influence our determination to support our colleagues.

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  • Don't mention it good sir.We GPs are always ready to do your bidding.

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  • I cant imagine there is a handful of GPs that would want to lift a finger to support this luminary of private healthcare or his Trust flunkies. Mr Hunt will go down in history as the man who single handedly destroyed primary care, sadly the next ballot box may come too late to reverse things unless the vote on Europe triggers yet another Tory party meltdown - we can but hope. In the meantime we have delegated commissioning, NHSE shuffling patient notes, a whole new industry forming around digital road maps - these people in NHSE and CCGs just really don't get what's happening!

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