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Independents' Day

'I can't fix your problems for you', Hunt tells GPs

The challenges in general practice are ‘not something the health secretary is going to solve for you’, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told GPs today

In his keynote speech at the 2017 RCGP Annual Conference in Liverpool today, Mr Hunt said he was ‘not ducking the challenges’ facing the profession.

But he said there is evidence that practices can take steps to control demand, urging GPs to take action in their own practices to deliver improvements faster. 

In his presentation to delegates the health secretary had pointed to studies that 26% of GP consultations were avoidable, and 60-80% of issues can be resolved without a face-to-face appointment.

Practices who have tried initatives to stream patients to pharmacists or online consultations 'have released 45 to 60 minutes per GP per day', he told delegates.

He also announced significant measures to improve the retention of GPs, principally a state backed indemnity scheme, which are intended to improve workforce issues.

However, BMA GP Committee representative Dr Stephanie deGiorgio pointed out that since his last speech to the RCGPAC three years ago ‘things have gotten worse’ for GPs.

Dr deGiorgio said: ‘Three years ago I talked to you about the elephant in the room, the overwhelming demand and how we were exhausted and drowning.

'It has gotten worse on your watch as we told you it would… Why should GPs believe what you’re saying today, when you weren’t listening then?’

In response Mr Hunt said: ‘I, respectfully and professionally, profoundly disagree with the sentiment of that question.

‘I’m sorry if that’s what you think, but let me be clear when I was here before I did not say that we were going to solve these problems overnight. I think if we look at what i said at the start of this speech I don’t think you could say for a moment that I was ducking the challenges faced by general practice.’

'It is challenging. And what I would say is: there are things that you can do as well. I think the evidence I showed this morning, is that you can make a big difference in your own practices.

‘This isn’t going to be something that the health secretary solves for you. It’s going to be something that we solve together.’


Readers' comments (27)

  • Idiot!

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  • The error here is to assume he's here to 'fix' general practice when his actual job is to prepare it for sale.

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  • Quite right Sunshine. Sale. Then he can make another million or get a position in a private health company. There is no incentive to cure the NHS.

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  • "Where have all the GPs gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the GPs gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the GPs gone?
    Abroad has picked them every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?"

    Now we are offered £20000 to go to areas devoid of GPs! Where did all the money come from? Might as well go abroad where you are valued both with pay and quality of life. That is where my medical daughter is. When will they ever learn- what is needed is not first aid, but a quality assessment of how to care for GPs.
    Too little, too late. The Government thinks throwing money at the problem will produce GPs, like white rabbits out of a magician's hat. It takes years to train to be a GP.

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  • Problem is which 26% are "avoidable"?
    Many of the patients I see require little or no intervention but it often takes someone with some professional training and a willingness to accept some degree of risk to be able to tell which are which. This is our entire job Mr Hunt.

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  • Until you have a consultation you don't know if it's not needed.

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  • i solved it for myself

    I left.

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  • In all fairness,he is being perfectly frank and honest.He is however only speaking to the independent private contractors.The salaried GP's can reasonably reply that the problems are his,not theirs.
    A Health secretary who cannot solve the problems of the NHS,is rather like a defence secretary who cannot defend the country,which in actual fact he probably can't,or a chancellor with no money,which actually he hasn't.
    We are seeing a government,not only unable to solve the problems,but which has lost the courage to try.

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  • and mr hunt.i met you with douglas carswell a few years ago.
    I told you in detail how things would collapse.

    you didn't listen then, and it has

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  • 26% of consultations are avoidable. 60- 80% do not need face to face consultations.
    It is easy to look at things retrospectively and make these statements. Unfortunately,you cannot tell in advance which are the 26%. I can say with 100% accuracy what last weekend`s football scores were, but it does not help with predicting this weekend!

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