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Independents' Day

Hunt: Doctors will realise seven-day access is 'the right thing to do'

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has finally responded to the petition, launched by doctors and receiving 200,000 signatures calling for his resignation, by arguing history would prove him right on seven-day NHS.

The petition claimed that Mr Hunt had ‘alienated the entire workforce of the NHS’ with his threats to impose a contract on consultants, and called for a vote of no confidence by Parliament in the health secretary.

The petition was debated in Westminster Hall yesterday focusing on ‘contracts and conditions in the NHS’, although Mr Hunt did not attend.

However, called to a hearing with the House of Commons health committee today, Mr Hunt said he was ‘very confident’ that his seven-day NHS reforms would actually lead to improved morale among doctors as they realise that actually ‘it was the right thing to do’.

He said: ‘In the end that is how you transform morale… by facing up to problems and not running away from them, and I think doctors and nurses are inspired with the vision of an NHS delivering high-quality care and a Government supporting them to do that…

But Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South, said: ‘The last time I looked there was a petition with 220,565 people asking you to resign. I wonder how many more ought to sign it before you might consider it?’

Mr Hunt replied: ‘When you’re asking doctors to change their contracts in order to deliver higher-quality care, of course that is going to be controversial, but in the end I have not met a doctor who doesn’t think we should be offering seven-day services in the NHS, who doesn’t want to deliver the safest possible care.

‘And I am very confident that when the issue dies down people will say “well actually, this was a difficult thing to do but it was the right thing to do because as a result, we are delivering safer care for patients”.’

Yesterday’s petition debate saw GPs told they needed to be ‘more flexible’ on seven-day working as it was necessary both to reduce pressure on hospitals and for busy patients’ convenience.

Readers' comments (39)

  • I need to meet Jezza, then at least he can't keep parroting that line about never meeting a doctor who doesn't...

    Mind you, look at his language, it's increasingly motherhood-and-Apple pie. Should the NHS be open 24/7? Yes. It is. Does that mean people should be able to summon a GP to inspect their bunions on a Sunday afternoon? No.

    It's the old slight of hand; you must agree with x, and leads to x, so you must agree with y, too.
    Crap reasoningthat most schoolchildren could unpick, but what ho, he's a politician. I'm sure Chaand and Maureen will produce a withering response.

    Altogether now;

    We welcome this report.....


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  • The problem is that the 7 day NHS he keeps wittering on about is not the 7 day routine unnecessary access that he is trying to force through so the answer he receives depends on the question actually asked. I am sure he would have met plenty of doctors who are opposed to the damage he is inflicting on general practice - or would have done had he not had "urgent business elsewhere" replacing one "discussion" opportunity or suddenly decided that his presence for the Budget recitation was essential, so ducking out of the Pulse Live debate. But hey - why should doctors who have been working 10,20,30+ years in the NHS be better informed that a career politician with no relevant experience?

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  • I really hope he's right. it would be great to have high moral and love my job again.
    WIth Jeremys help I will move from this dystopia version of the NHS to a utopia version where we will joyfully wave goodbye to our family in the sure fire knowledge that we'll be making a difference for people who need us 24/7/365 for all there ills and perceived ills; reassuring them and returning them to the bosom of their family whilst ours relish in the warm glow of altruism. (Harp noise and wakes from dream)

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  • Vinci Ho

    It appears that he is running out of ideas on responding challenging questions . The same words got repeat and repeat now. Pretty sure the virus FOV220,000 has started to affect the central nervous system .

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  • I left uk 3years ago;

    I am confident history will prove to me that this was the right move;

    UK primary care is dying

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  • So exactly what are these plans? Why doesn't he let the inteligent, articulate and highly trained individuals see these plans instead of acting like a teacher talking down to kids telling us it will all be for our own good. I too would love to feel like I was doing more than treading water to prevent the drowning in my workload, to enjoy helping patients again, be able to properly meet expectations. Yet I am not overly optimistic that this will be the case when I cannot see what the plans are.

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  • I think the general public should be able to see their elected MP at one of their surgeries 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. If this is difficult for them I suppose they could arrange one of their neighbouring MPs to cover some of that time. The general public would love the amount of access.
    ... What no takers from the House of Commons?

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  • It is amazing what a two month break would do for any GP...but it seems that he has lost more than his brain cells

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  • increase our pay and we will work 24/7 365 days .

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  • Being lectured my Jeremy Hunt about how he plans to improve our morale is generating a pavlovian reaction of me kicking a swearbox across the room!!

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