This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

DH tight-lipped on GP out-of-hours shake-up but pledges to 'negotiate' contract changes

Exclusive: The Department of Health has refused to release any details about how health secretary Jeremy Hunt plans to hand back out-of-hours responsibility to GPs - but has promised that changes to the GP contract will be made in ‘negotiation’ with the profession.

Pulse asked the DH to clarify Mr Hunt’s announcement yesterday that he wanted GPs to be individually responsible for their patients around the clock and given a duty to ‘sign off’ out-of-hours care.

Questions posed by Pulse regarding the statement included when the DH wants these changes to come into effect and whether it would consider imposing terms if the profession did not accept them. In light of Mr Hunt’s comments that GPs have to do too much ‘box-ticking’, Pulse also questioned what changes the DH are planning for the QOF.

But a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Any future changes to general practice and the GP contract will be made in negotiation with GPs. It is too early to go into detail about what proposals might be.’

It comes as LMCs are due to debate Mr Hunt’s announcement this afternoon in three emergency motions brought to the LMCs conference, including whether GPs should and could take back out-of-hours responsibility, as well as a vote of no confidence in the health secretary in light of his ‘misrepresentation’ of GPs to the public and the press.

What the motions say:

801: That conference agrees with the Secretary of State that GPs are the patients’ champions; NHS staff are working harder than ever before; and targets and requirements of QOF, QP and enhanced services are getting in the way of dealing with the patient’s agenda.


802: That conference accepts that GPs should take back responsibility for out-of-hours provision, if:

i. GPC negotiators can agree safe guaranteed minimum funding

ii. private providers cannot be involved as GPs will be ‘responsible’ for outcomes

iii. all funding from NHS 111 is transferred to GP out of hours

iv. out of hours should be run and organised locally to best meed the needs of patients.


803: That given the English Secretary of State for Health’s misrepresentation of GPs to the public and press, this conference has no confidence in him.

Source: BMA

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘I think it will be a very interesting debate. It is very important that the profession determines policy and is seen to do so.’

‘The lack of clarity is very difficult to work with because you don’t know whether you are for or against something until you know what it is. But if that is how they are going to work, and they have always done that, then we have to work with that.’

Dr Buckman declined to comment in more detail so as to not influence the debate. However in opening the LMCs conference yesterday he warned GPs were‘not prepared to shore up urgent care’.





Readers' comments (7)

  • Vinci Ho

    One mission of Agent Hunt was to dig out a contentious subject in NHS , hence, the row between A/E and GPs ( which is something always present way before 2004 and he actually labelled the time before 2004 by all means as 'perfect'). As everybody is talking about this issue , the government can avoid the real issues going on in NHS . As I said , nobody wants to talk about Nicholson challenge anymore.
    (2) Agent Hunt had blown the issue out of proportion . He will be seeking a stepping up or down platform depending on the reactions of the public.......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Let common sense prevail

    So all future contract changes will follow negotiations with the profession. Why do I feel that this promise is about as empty as a very empty bucket with a large hole in the bottom?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • substitute negotiation with imposition

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho - I think it is even worse than you paint it. It's not just about finding a contentious subject. It's about finding a contentious subject that will demonise GPs.

    If I were a GP, I would be thinking carefully about who will be representing my interests in any negotiations - and what their record has been since 2010....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    Yes, interesting . Surprising and disappointing that Agent Hunt survived the no confidence vote ....
    Has anyone watched Martin Scorsese' s Departed (2006) or the even better original Hong Kong version Infernal Affairs(2002)? Highly recommend .......
    I suppose every organisation is the same.............

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This ia a laugh...teh DH negotiationg. They have no clue of teh definition. They are arragont, out of touch,(this is my opinion and denies any slander) look at the imposition of contract 2013-2014.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It seems to me that the only way to ensure we have a safe high quality OOH service is to do it ourselves. It has been of such varying and sometimes poor quality since we were allowed to opt out. Calls are now being triaged by unqualified and often very young and inexperienced 'call handlers'. How is that ever going to work ? Calls can only be handled quickly, efficiently and appropriately by GPs and experienced nurse practitioners and nurses. I think we should consider taking it back. I bet it would be cost effective as well.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say