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Gold, incentives and meh

Hunt confirms rollback on pre-election pledge of 5,000 new GPs

Jeremy Hunt has put more distance between the Government and its pre-election pledge to deliver 5,000 more GPs by 2020, as first revealed by Pulse, saying today that the figure was the ‘maximum’ that was achievable.

Speaking at the Health+Care show in London today, Mr Hunt said that the Department of Health was increasingly looking at the alternative primary care roles, such as physician associates and nurse practitioners to provide a sustainable workforce.

This comes after Pulse revealed on Monday that the secretary of state had already said the acute workforce crisis in some parts of the country meant that the Government would have to be ‘flexible’ about its 5,000 GPs pledge.

He told delegates at today’s conference that the DH now recognised that it may not have the time to train sufficient GPs, or persuade former GPs back to the workforce in order to meet its target.

The health secretary said a workforce study was under way to assess the extent of other primary care professionals in the NHS.

Mr Hunt said: ‘I talked about recruiting 5,000 more GPs on Friday. In truth, we think that is the maximum that we would be able to increase the GP workforce by, over the next five years. Given the time it takes to train new GPs; given the potential number of people who we can persuade to come back into the profession.’

Pulse reported this week that the health secretary had modified the Government’s expectations in an off-camera Q&A immediately after launching the ‘new deal’ for general practice and committing to 5,000 more GPs,

He said last Friday: ‘We’ve said that we want the overall increase in the primary care workforce to be around 10,000, of which we anticipate around half will be GPs. But we are leaving some flexibility because in some parts of the country it is very hard to recruit GPs.’

However, DH spokespersons denied that this represented a watering down of the Conservatives’ pledge.

GP leaders warned pre-election that pledges of 5,000 new GPs were not achievable without a Back to the Future Delorean’.

And Pulse has already revealed huge blackspots in recruitment to GP training, with more than 60% of places left unfilled in some parts of the country after this year’s first intake round.

This came after 12% of places were left unfilled nationally last year, amid tumbling application rates.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul responded to the announcement, saying: ‘We are glad that after pressure from the BMA, the secretary of state is beginning to accept that we need to be more realistic about GP recruitment.

‘With such a limited workforce he now needs to rethink his plans for seven day services which cannot be practically delivered with the current shrinking number of GPs. There must also be serious steps taken to address the fundamental reasons why doctors do not want to be GPs, including delivering real and sustained investment to struggling practices, countering the negative stereotypes of GPs, reducing the burden of bureaucracy and enabling GPs to spend more time with their patients.’

Mr Hunt’s speech was followed by another talk on the ‘new deal’ by NHS England’s head of primary care development, Dr Robert Varnam, who told the audience that general practice had been working under severe funding and workforce constraints for years, which had been revealed in consultation with GPs.

Dr Varnam, who is a GP in Manchester, said: ‘Already at that time, and this was going back a few years, already the funding was starting to tail off, and actually since then we’ve seen major problems with premises and workforce. We’ve been sleepwalking into a workforce disaster in general practice for a number of years, and the acuity of the pressure that’s creating is now serious.

‘General practice is probably unsustainable without an awful lot of stuff being done, let alone reaching to beautiful visions of the future.’

Readers' comments (48)

  • ‘I talked about recruiting 5,000 more GPs on Friday. In truth, we think that is the maximum that we would be able to increase the GP workforce by....." What does "In truth" mean in this context?

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  • So this means we'll be rolling back to 6 day opening then 5,4,3,2,1 then gone !

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  • Restore income to 2004 levels , job done .

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  • Pledges are not toilet paper that you can keep rolling back .....rolling with laughter at his antics:)

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  • he'd doing well to increase the GP numbers per capita by 50 at this rate. no chance mate

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  • Vinci Ho

    Enlighten me. There is a word called 'hypocritical' , isn't it?

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  • flexible 5000 = whatever number they can trick into it.

    but for us 7 days = 7 days. lol!

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Without more GPs I'll start having to clock off even later than the (not) 7pm that I do now.
    8pm Monday 1030pm last night.- Clock off Hunt
    #clockoffhunt

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  • This just proves that the pre-election promises were a load of hot air. The BMA Annual RM has called on the Government to "get real " In the meantime any doctor involved in any DOH Body should resign for fear of being contaminated by these snake-oil salesmen.

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  • The old question-- How do you tell when a politician is lying ? comes to mind.
    It's every time their lips move.

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  • Such a pity Mr Hunt as 5000 is the minimum needed to deliver 7 day service.
    As your view that you can find the necessary number is changing please change your view on how thinly you can spread the current GP resource.
    If it helps my practice is willing to close Monday and Tuesday and open Saturday and Sunday, we are all used to working flexibly.
    I haveheld a GP principle contract with cover ever since I qualified and worked for out of ours services since the contract split to core and out of hours.
    Please be advised the contract was divided to prevent burnout and excessively long hours of work to maintain recruitment- you clearly don't read the cabinet backpapers or you would not be repeating the work that was done in 2001 on inappopriate service requests to GP's from the begining again.
    I appreciate "Making a Difference" is a poor title linking to over 2000 Government publications, I enclose the link
    .http://www.gpcwm.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/file/A-Z%20DOWNLOADS/M%20DOWNLOADS/Making_a_Difference_cabinet_office_march_01.pdf
    Stop talking politics and start taking useful action.
    I am afraid I am of the Ian Fleming persuasion on your actions..
    "a first deteriorated outcome for your input is happenstance;
    A second deteriorated outcome for your input is co-incidence;
    A third deteriorated outcome for your input is ENEMY ACTION.

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  • It is absolutely clear that GPs should not negotiate on 7 days opening in return for improved workforce.

    As we have found to our cost we would be held to keep our side of the agreement but the DoH/ NHSE would renege on its side of the deal at the earliest opportunity (e.g now).

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  • It is quite clear from both sides that the government will not be able to keep their side of the 'deal' and provide an extra 5000 GPs 'in truth' or otherwise within the timeframe mentioned. It's therefore clear that we as GPs do not have a deal Mr Hunt.
    Scale down your fantastical plans for 7 day GP opening and do something right now about retaining and encouraging GPs to return to your health service. Drop the red tape, get crown indemnity cover for GPs, scrap revalidation, stop making is jump through hoops to gain funding for work we already do and most importantly stop , STOP this constant denigration of the profession in this country's media. It's absolutely toxic to the continuing improvement and growth of your workforce and your plan to deliver a better NHS that remains free at the point of use.

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  • Guess I'll have to be "flexible" promising 7 day working too....

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  • Politicians should not be allowed any where near healthcare. Jeremy Hunt is either completely inept and / or a complete liar. Either way he's out of his depth and dangerous.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Politicians= evil lying scum, usually. 99% of them give the rest a bad name.

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  • Are we surprised? Didn't we tell them how long it takes to train a GP? What self-respecting retiree would come back? 12 hour, 7 day availability with ever diminishing, demoralised workforce and inadequate funding? Blood out of a stone?

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  • 'Sleepwalking' into this - i don't think so. Ppl have been warning of this for YEARS. This the GP equivalent of deliberately repeatedly ignoring plain red flag symptoms - its called grossly negligent workforce er ?planning

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  • Glad to be retired. I certainly won't return to a system that has become so toxic due to lack of support & funding from DH. PAs are not a replacement for GPs. CQC needs to reform radically or disappear. J Hunt needs to sit with a GP throughout a whole working week to get real.

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  • Ha ha ha ha
    Liar liar pants on fire
    Ha ha ha ha
    Geez this cracks me up
    Ladies to the left Gentleman to the right and alternates the bathroom for you is down the road and to the left room number 666
    Seriously we are an unbelievably forgiving spineless bunch of so so who just bend and talk
    How does one change tend like the wind , I mean chameleons are slimy lizard types but at least they stay have integrity
    JR EWING Dallas fame was right -- if you have no integrity life us so easy
    Alas if only we could all wake up and pretend it's all a dream aka Bobby ------ who knows maybe it us ..tan tan de tan ....!

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  • "Persuade people back into the profession". What the ... ?

    Mr Hunt, if you'd done a stint in defence you'd understand that ejector seats are a last resort one way trip out of a burning aircraft before it falls apart completely or nosedives into the ground and explodes. Trust me, when I pull that yellow handle I ain't planning on walking back to the burning wreckage to give any unexploded ordnance a good kick.

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  • Do any of you seriously care anymore??

    Make these imbeciles obsolete...ALL OF THEM!!!

    TODAY I READ THAT OF THE TOP 50 CITIES TO LIVE IN THE WORLD 8 OUT OF THE TOP 10 ARE EITHER IN CANADA/ NEW ZEALAND OR AUSTRALIA!!!

    coincidentally these countries have THOUSANDS of jobs FOR BRITISH GPs, they're begging for MRCGP holders;

    If the lifestyle doesn't attract you, how about the working conditions and fabulous pay????

    REMOVE ALL OF THESE IDIOTS OUT OF YOUR LIFE; EXTRICATE YOURSELF FROM THEIR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE.....ALL OF THEM.....SAY goodbye to the DOH/ CQC/NHSE/BMA/RCGP/GMC/CCG/MDU/ DOH

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  • It took him 5 years to acknowledge that. I wonder how long will take him to sort the problem out. Not the sharpest tool in the shed..is he?

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  • Delusions of grandeur- CHECK

    Having Visions of 7 day working which are not there- CHECK (except in a selloff to private chums)

    Unable to hold meaningful eye contact (see NLP) -CHECK

    Confabulations - Daily Wail and other right wing press (remember Leveson inquiry anyone?)- CHECK

    A danger to others - 1) Patient care -CHECK
    2) Gps' health and their families' health- CHECK

    LACK OF INSIGHT-CHECK

    Is there not a place in >GOV.UK where one can ask for a question to be brought before parliament ?
    I think about 100,000 or more signatures?

    Where do i sign?

    This madness needs to end.org

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  • I despair.
    When he was interviewed by the R4 today program it felt like a party political broadcast. He simply wasn't challenged on the ludicrous targets he had set. How far the BBC has dropped. They simply had to look on pulse for the facts and figures that would have allowed them to tear apart the ridiculous figures he announced.
    Anyone who knows anything about what is happening in primary care right now (and this is for anyone who might be from the BBC doing some basic research by reading Pulse) knows he'll be lucky to not have 5,000 less GPs by 2020.
    I'd laugh if it wasn't so sad...not so much for general practice but the UK population who will be left without access to doctors.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Yawn!
    Actually more excited to watch the other Agent Hunt in the forthcoming Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation .

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  • He is going to go down in history as a frank liar.

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  • the man is a lie incarnate
    wd cannot deal with him..he is dishonest
    ballot now for resignations

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  • 'The best health service....... in the world',
    BUT:
    we don't pay the doctors and nurses, just the businessmen supplying crap time limited components the most profitable of which, mates, are to the techno hospitals, except the vaccines!
    Business expenses: well PFI, mates (at least they think so); and staff, not to mention the sodding patients- sheez the f####ers dent the profit margins, but it's OK my dear greedy mates....we're working on it!
    Nothing personal, it's just business and boys, are we going to keep filling our boots on this brand!!

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  • He's well aware there aren't enough GPs and he's making sure there won't be. He doesn't think primary care needs to be staffed by Drs. He thinks they are too expensive and too difficult to control. His plan is to staff general practice with nurses and physicians assistants.

    This is his position...but he can't actually say it can he. So he just lies and comes up with stalling waffle whilst his background plan is carried out. This guy has a very low opinion of GPs. He works/used to work as a hospital porter so he could understand the 'real NHS'...he's opinions on general practice are coloured by the views of one sided jaded and ignorant hospital Drs who've never worked in primary care like the surgeon Prof M Thomas. This guys toxic views on General Practice are widely published and very clear. Mr Hunt completely agrees with him.

    Hunts contempt for GPs is obvious. But he's a politician. The raisin d'être of the political is to get unpopular and often crazy stuff done whilst distracting those who disagree by lying, sowing division and spinning propaganda. The squeals are kept to a minimum as your plan is carried out and your foes quietly eliminated.

    Hunt is a politician...and his is what he is doing. He doesn't want more GPs...he just can't say so.

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  • Mr Hunt said: ‘I talked about recruiting 5,000 more GPs on Friday. In truth, we think that is the maximum that we would be able to increase the GP workforce by, over the next five years".
    I'm getting on a bit, but I can recall when "wicked" meant bad and "truth" implied honesty

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  • Slimy toad.

    Has there ever been a less trusted and more despised health secretary than this man?

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  • Is 'Politician' a syndrome?

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  • they will be able to meet targets, very easily actually. Why does a GP have to be a home grown brit?
    There will be plans for importation from the eu and english speaking countries around the world.
    crisis over.
    it happens with nursing with nhs official recruitment missions why does everyone suspect it won't happen with the beloved "jewel in the crown"

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  • Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP | 25 June 2015 1:15pm

    they will be able to meet targets, very easily actually. Why does a GP have to be a home grown brit?
    There will be plans for importation from the eu and english speaking countries around the world.
    crisis over.
    it happens with nursing with nhs official recruitment missions why does everyone suspect it won't happen with the beloved "jewel in the crown"


    Because there is a world shortage of Drs.

    Because these 'English speaking countries ' you mention like Canada, Australia and NewZealand don't have enough GPs either and that's were large numbers of our UK trained Drs are heading.

    Because recent changes to immigration rules make recruiting from outside the EU difficult anyway.

    Because I've met plenty of GPs who trained outside the UK and they find the work just as demoralising and depressing as I do and go sick and leave just often as everyone else.

    Because even if they did magically find enough of these missing GPs they don't appear to have the money to employ them anyway..in fact where are they...why aren't they here already?

    That's why.

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  • @ 2.21pm and PULSE

    Any mileage in referring Jeremy Hunt to the parliamentary standards committee for dishonsty? I guess probity only applies to healthcare workers not people that are parachuted in to run the NHS and don't give a to*s.

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  • 150k a year for 40 hour work week is minimum requirement for me to come back but I imagine you would rather have a few nurses and phys associates. They'll get u a long way... to ending the NHS oh ok you wanted to do that. I hope the public never forgives you but me. Ill go private if I ever come abck as I imagine people will still want to see doctors rather than nurses.

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  • nurses are nurses not doctors

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  • Sir Malcolm Bruce admitted that politicians tell brazen lies. That is their currency. 5000 is the maximum. The minimum could be - 5000 or even -10000. No minimum cited.

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  • If an elected Govt does not wish GP oriented health care, then so be it. If it is the will of the people that this model of care is not what they wish, then we have to look at other models.
    We cannot subsidise the NHS forever, a fact that they do not realise. We may earn large sums but per item eg a consultation take home pay is £3. No private firm can ever provide that.
    But hey, if that is what the public have voted for, so be it then.

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  • let me see if i understand it.

    1/3 of GPs have said they are going to retire within 5 years.
    a lot (?number) of GPs are emigrating, locuming or changing careers
    the number of GPs entering the profession is down per year by 400

    so if we assume there are 45000 fte.
    1. 15000 are going to retire (or 3000 per year)
    2. -400 per year deficit in joiners (or 2500 joining per year)
    3. a few thousand (i guess) to LEP

    so by 2020 we are going to have a deficit of about 2-3000 GPs

    is he sure he didn't misread his speech and meant to have said we will have 5000 less GPs?

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  • population estimate by 2020 is 67 million in UK

    if we are down to 40,000 or 35,000 GPs - it is possible there will be 1 GP per 2000 people. throw in 24 hr care and the job will be suicidal - i can't see anyone doing it unless salary is c .500k

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  • 'rollback'....a euphemism for a filthy lie.

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  • I Have just completed a week in a reduced capacity occupational health service since the axing of support by NHSE and reluctantly have had to recommend 4 Doctors to take at least 3 months sick leave each by virtue of the severity of their burn out symptoms This is equivalent to the loss of a whole experienced GP in one week in a small part of the country .The demand has doubled since the election results so the existing work force is shrinking fast

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  • Dr Ben, so sad that so many GPs are depressed and burntout. I also feel this and have left for a few months.
    But, to me, the real question is this = why do we have a Contract that is so so toxic to so many of the Contractors?
    Whose job is it that the Contract should be reasonable and fair?
    Has anyone a duty of care to GPs or doctors in general [ I used to do 80 hour weekends with 2-3 hours sleep]?
    Is it not right that such a system almost equivalent to slavery in its hours, comes to an end?
    Would you, Dr Ben recommend GP land to anybody? I would not, it is horrific and on top of the nightmare, you have the triple headed monsters of GMC, CQC and Medical defence.
    I am glad i am gone and it stuns me that there are thousands still wanting to be GPs.

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  • Employ physician assistant instead of gps who can be bad as Steve field says

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  • We face £50 k loss in weighted list. We face a further £66k loss from PMS cuts. We are 2 ft gps
    Any ideas how we can earn more than our present £70k pa facing such cuts

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