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Hunt denies 'picking a fight' with GPs over out of hours

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has hit back at claims he is ‘picking a fight with GPs’ when put on the spot at the NHS Confederation conference this morning.

Mr Hunt claimed he had ‘picked a fight with the structure’ and not GPs over out-of-hours care provision in a Q&A session, hosted by BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague, after his speech in Liverpool. Mr Hunt also reiterated his view that patients attend A&E because they lack access to primary care.

Mr Hunt said: ‘[GPs’] contract and the incentives we use has made it very difficult for them to take a whole-person approach.

‘I haven’t picked a fight with GPs. I have picked a fight with the structure,’ he added. ‘What do you want me to do? When every A&E I visit says [they are under pressure because of the lack of other facilities for patients]. I think this is an issue we do need to address.’

Asked whether he still viewed being health secretary as a great opportunity, Mr Hunt added: ‘I have a few more sleepless nights… But health means more to people than any other area… [and] I wouldn’t swap the system that we have for any other system.’

It comes as the row of GP out-of-hours care provision escalated further over the last few days, with the RCGP expressing support for Mr Hunt’s wishes for better 24/7 primary care for the most ‘vulnerable’ patients while the GPC branded these calls ‘discriminatory’.

Readers' comments (17)

  • What do we want you to do?
    Engage in dialogue with the people doing the Job, Not just one side.Work with GP`s to solve the problems, not annoy the hell out of them and put them on the defensive. Discuss and reach agreement, don`t impose.

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  • Those annoying, stupid, lazy, overpaid GPs who ruined the NHS by refusing to do OOH must have got it wrong.......

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  • Mr Hunt seems to be falling into the notion that if you say something often enough, it becomes true, irrespective of reality. He seems to have missed his vocation in tabloid journalism??

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  • What about the fact that, as GPs, we are also all saying that we're 'under pressure?' Where is the plan to fix that?

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  • Mr Hunt needs to go,he is expert in alienating most of the workforce.What a fool.

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  • Mr Hunt is right, he is not picking a fight with the GPs. He's just picking on GPs

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  • Jeremy Hunt got very cozy with the papers before he was promoted to his current position. Cozy enough that many wondered how he kept his job at all. Is it any surprise that he uses his friends in the papers and other outlets to bash GPs? There is no shortage of evidence of pressure on primary care but there is no appetite from the media to highlight this. Hunt has the media to repeat what he wants them to with so called journalists never challenging his words.

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  • Mr Hunt needs to communicate with GP leaders, not just those in hospital or management. He needs to acknowledge and address the pressures were are up against - not assume that its all about AE departments.

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  • I agree, Clare, that he needs to start communicating with GP leaders before the damage done is too permanent and too extensive. It may well be too late.

    But what on earth are you doing up at 6.09 reading Pulse? I hope you are OK.

    Alison

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  • Vinci Ho

    The most intriguing feature of this NHS Confederarion conference was the relationship between the Health Secrerary and NHS chief executive (yet to resign) gone sour. The latter gave an hour long speech to define the reasons he had to step down and how his aspiration of 'changes' was not fulfilled . Most interesting was he picked on agent Hunt about GPs on A/E crisis .
    Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? Nobody is a good guy once you are 'playing' with politics .
    The relationship between the SOS and NHSCE is always fascinating and mysterious.
    Even more interesting is who will be the successor of DN? That might mean one way or the other as far as our survival is concerned . I suppose his or her opinion on what the government is 'really' doing to NHS will count.......

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