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Hunt mans phones at GP surgery

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt manned the phones at two busy GP surgeries in London recently spearheading a new initiative to force Department of Health civil servants to experience working on the NHS front line.

Mr Hunt answered calls from patients at the Hurley Clinic in Kennington, south London earlier this month saying he was under ‘constant pressure from callers for appointments’.

The health secretary also helped out in reception at a GP practice in Wandsworth last week.

The health secretary will announce later today that Whitehall officials will also be expected to follow his lead, leaving their offices to mop floors and empty bedpans in hospitals as well as rolling up their sleeves helping out in GP practices.

The Francis Inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust published in March urged health officials to make more effort to get out of Whitehall and meet patients.

Mr Hunt said: ‘Too often, civil servants are accused of making policies from within the ivory towers of Whitehall. It is time for this perception of aloofness to end. No member of staff should be able to get on without a personal understanding of our most basic aim – providing excellent care for the public.’

Dr Murray Ellender, a GP at the Hurley Clinic, said: ‘We welcomed the opportunity to host the secretary of state at our practice. Mr Hunt spent a couple of hours answering calls from patients and dealing with reception issues under the supervision of our reception lead, Mr Isaac Nunoo . 

‘Mr Hunt then spent some time talking to key members of the practice team such as GPs, secretarial staff, nursing staff and the practice manager. We hope that left with a better understanding of the pressures facing all team members in modern general practice. Especially the pressures experienced by the reception team with whom he worked.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Gosh, Mr Hunt thinks spending 2 days as a receptionist entitles him to understand the practicalities of the primary care? I've left med school 13 years ago and there are still parts of primary care I don't understand or know.

    It would be a good start if Mr Hunt was a credible politician with genuine drive to improve NHS. I'm afraid his agenda to bush down on GPs and fragment NHS is far too obvious for his latest stunt to be taken seriously. Another political advert by Mr Hunt I think.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Clever, clever politics
    But it is still politics.....
    (Trouble is even my wife said agent Hunt is good looking. She used to be a Tom Cruise's fan.....)

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  • I'll gladly welcome DoH staff to my practice in the North East of England (north of Watford and even Leeds!).

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  • Was the practice on his way across London to his sumptuous lunch as a guest of News International by any chance? It wouldn't have been too much trouble to visit somewhere beyond the boundaries of London, would it?

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  • why did he not sit in with a doctor (or nurse)? contempt for them perhaps? Only being interested in access without experiencing service delivery seems foolish. Mr Hunt wants GPs working more nights. This is only likely to decrease access in the daytime and fragment continuity. I thought the CCGs were supposed to be set free to sort out some of the problems without so much political meddling. Now there seems to be more meddling than ever. What a bunch of....................

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