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We must convince graduates that general practice is 'exciting', says Ashworth

Exclusive Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said Labour must convince medical graduates that general practice is a 'really exciting' profession, in an interview with Pulse.

Mr Ashworth told Pulse he respects GP trainees and that a Labour government wants more, following the party's recent announcement to expand the number of GP training places by 40% - to 5,000 a year.

The Labour MP for Leicester South said he knows the ‘tremendous pressures’ GPs face but added he wants to send a message that general practice is 'hugely rewarding.'

He said: ‘We’ve got to convince medical graduates that general practice is really exciting. We’ve got a big agenda on health inequalities. We’ve got a big agenda to really tackle these differences in life expectancies in our poorer and more deprived areas.

‘Given that it is going to be such a focus of mine as health secretary, really putting wellbeing at the heart of our policy agenda, I hope we’ll be able to show from a national level that general practice is the place to be. I’m not able to deliver my health inequalities agenda unless I’ve got general practice fully part of that.

‘From my point of view, I hope we’re sending a message that general practice is hugely rewarding. We respect you and we want more of you.'

The Labour party has pledged a £2.5 billion investment into primary care estate, alongside increasing the number of GP training places in England to 5,000 a year - up from the current number of around 3,500.

Mr Ashworth acknowledged the measures will take time to have an impact, but said the party's pledge to invest £1 billion into public health services will also help relieve the burden on general practice.

He said: 'A big capital investment has been announced today of £2.5 billion to upgrade facilities but I know things are going to take time after ten years of squeeze of budgets and cutbacks to turn things around.

'Public health has been decimated in recent years but if you can get public health resolved, as it were, you can prevent people getting ill in the first place. That is going to have an impact on the pressure on general practice.'

Regarding the pensions tax issue, Mr Ashworth said he will 'urgently' try to resolve the pensions issue that GPs are facing.

He said: 'I hear it from GPs all the time, and consultants in the provider sector. Of course, the way in which the tapering applies where you do an extra shift and you’re hit with a tax bill, we need to review it. If I’m honest, if I came up with a solution from my back pocket now, you wouldn’t believe me. This is very complex.'

He added that Labour, if elected, would 'look at this urgently'.

The Conservatives recently pledged 6,000 new doctors in general practice by 2024/25.

Readers' comments (46)

  • National Hopeless Service

    It isnt. Its just less shit than hospital medicine.

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  • Cobblers

    Oh dear more election based platitudinous drivel.

    Message should be sh1t job, sh1t pay.

    Never get me elected, would it?

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  • Has he been watching too much rubbish TV ffs.

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  • Crazy talk. He needs to watch a couple of episodes of Doc Martin or Doctors to understand the subtle nuances of General Practice.

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  • another hung parliament

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  • Do you remember those pod things in the movie 'Alien' which burst open and produced - well - aliens?

    This Ashworth chappie has been incubating in the pod next to the one that hatched Matt Hancock

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  • Mr Ashworth will need to establish a few gulags and Uighur-style "vocational centres" to help convince medical graduates of the errors of their beliefs about General Practise.

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  • The students aren't that stupid....

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  • bollox
    crap job, crap pay, crap support, crap new contract, shafted by nhs and government and hmrc and pension; no one in their right mind should do it;

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  • Or, rather than mis-selling the job to smart people who will quickly leave for better options, perhaps we could just improve the funding and terms and conditions of the job through a new contract?

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  • Wow, now I really feel valued. So valued in fact that the proposed Labour tax increase and the pension scandal (that is too complex for the honourable SHS to solve) have faded into insignificance. Workload dumping; chronic understaffing; CQC inspections; Healthwatch practice visits; PCN's; annual appraisals; convoluted referral systems; medication shortages; vindictive complaints suddenly don't seem so bad now that I have a new mirror mantra (works better if repeated 10x): general practice is exciting ...

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  • DT for Health Secretary!!!

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  • Bigger cages.
    Longer chains.

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  • Had such an exciting day yesterday! 5 polypharmic patients in the morning with multiple problems.... So ace to feel that pressure of running behind and knowing no one else will help them! Then a totally wicked consult with a patient on like loads of pain meds, regally demanding and rude, just love that thrill!!!!!! Totes amazeballs meetings at lunchtime, and SSSSOOOOO excited for CQC next week OMG OMG OMG!!!!

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  • Who said "spare me from interestng times." I don't want exciting just steady manageable workload. I send the exciting stuff to those hospital Drs who probably don't find it exciting after their 500th. Super specialisation and all.

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  • Unlike politicians, my conscience would not allow me to lie to medical students.

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  • It sometimes seems that to qualify for a health portfolio in politics, one has be an idiot as well as ignorant of the subject matter.

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  • Deliberate refusal to face the real causes of GP problems.
    If these were sorted then there would be no need to "convince"

    CON-vince more like.

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  • "We respect you"- well it wasn't that long ago that Labour were calling us "bourgeois icons".
    Pass the sick bag.

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  • Labour will have such a high tax rate the pensions problems will be dwarfed out of significance because it will not pay any GP to work more than a couple of days a week anyway.
    Even if they do, they will not want to as they will no longer be able to pass what they earn to their children because of Labours proposed maximum £125000 limit to inheritance.

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  • Its not hugely rewarding. It is not exciting. It is a pain in the ar*e. As for resolving the pension tax issue - the labour party are most likely going to remove the 40% relief and increase income tax by at least 10% for us excitable rewarding GP's. That will really sort it out. Idiot.

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  • David Banner

    Whoaml 12.22 - quite right!!

    GP IS exciting! It’s a white knuckle ride every day....will your partner stay or leave? Will CQC treat you kindly? Will there be enough money in the account to pay the staff this month? Will Capita get their sums right just once? Will the extortionately expensive locum do any admin today? Who will you be lumbered with in the Home Visit lottery? Will you have a lunch break? Will you make it home before the kids are in bed? tick, tick, tick, tick......BOOM!!
    Fantastic!
    Every day is like Mission Impossible. Step aside, Tom Cruise, the GP partner is in the front seat.......GO!!! WOO-HOO!!!!!

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  • A polished turd with glitter and a bow tie and a superman cape is still a turd.Do these politicos think that medical students are stupid as they are.Yawn!

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  • Whystayagp? | GP Partner/Principal14 Nov 2019 1:44pm

    "Labour will have such a high tax rate the pensions problems will be dwarfed out of significance because it will not pay any GP to work more than a couple of days a week anyway".

    Sorry, this is wrong. Our pensions, and what we pay in Superannuation contributions, are based on our total superannual income, whereas any tax increase would only be on taxable income (not profits, or gross income, or net income - but taxable) amounts over £80,000. This is a huge difference, and SPN payments reduce your taxable income.

    "Even if they do, they will not want to as they will no longer be able to pass what they earn to their children because of Labours proposed maximum £125000 limit to inheritance".

    Assuming this, is actually jumping the gun. There was a report (Land for the many) which was produced to look at the problems of land and home ownership (owning multiple homes, some left empty; buy to rent; new buyers being priced out of the market; banks loaning monies on mortgages [sub prime scandal]; raw deal for renters; problems of homelessness; etc) and one paragraph (I think) considered a deduction in the cap on inheritance values.
    This is all very long term, is still up for discussion, and, in terms of this article, has nothing to do with being a GP, a consultant or whatever.

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  • Having said that, I agree this statement from Ashworth is facile and pretty much pie in the sky, as regards HP recruitment.
    More important are conditions of work, reducing micro-management in all its forms, renewing the principles of working as a professional with more degree of autonomy and work-life balance.
    For this audience, a meaningless article.

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  • Sorry - GP recruitment!

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  • It is impossible to be a full time patient facing GP for a whole career. All my friends in other jobs work 5 days a week but we have allowed our job to become impossible to do this.
    Who would actually sign up for that!
    We do need to accept we may need to break some of the sacred cows of general practice to survive
    PCNs will not deliver anything short term. We have employed PAs, physios and any time savings are dwarfed by the supervision time of the roles

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  • The office for tax simplification has come up with some really sensible suggestions for the ridiculous pension situation. How can be not know about this?
    Why not just say he will accept their advice?
    I am just gobsmacked by his ignorance.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    another totally ignorant politician who thinks he might like to run the NHS, thinks making GP look exciting is what's needed, like everybody is leaving or going part time because they're bored. says more about his own particular biases and pre-conceptions than anything.

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  • The job is fullfilling and interesting but any new recruit should understand that in this country , the workload and clinical risk are potentially unlimited and the tax burden is high. So if you want to work a couple of days per week and have a nice life then it is good ( but not good for the Health Secretary). If you want to be a full time partner/ full time earner , you may burn out, with not that much higher take home pay.

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  • A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig. The job in its current form is shite, thanks to government regulations and interference

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  • ‘Today I checked 100 letters full of poor handovers, had to deal with 5 requests for me to refer onwards and respond to 3 ‘referral rejections’. It was MEGA!’

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  • Vinci Ho

    Calm down , folks .Let me try to decipher his encrypted message (1)He said: ‘We’ve got to convince medical graduates that general practice is really exciting. ‘
    Punchline:Convince is another word for ‘lie to ‘😂
    (2) ‘Given that it is going to be such a focus of mine as health secretary, really putting wellbeing at the heart of our policy agenda, I hope we’ll be able to show from a national level that general practice is the place to be. I’m not able to deliver my health inequalities agenda unless I’ve got general practice fully part of that.’
    Punchline: If I go down as the health secretary who fail to deliver , you guys go down with me 😈
    (3) ‘From my point of view, I hope we’re sending a message that general practice is hugely rewarding. We respect you and we want more of you.'
    Punchline : hugely rewarding never means in financial terms. 😗
    (4)’A big capital investment has been announced today of £2.5 billion to upgrade facilities but I know things are going to take time after ten years of squeeze of budgets and cutbacks to turn things around.’
    Punchline: do not blame me if it takes another ten years to turn things around but please keep voting for Labour 😃
    (5)’I hear it from GPs all the time, and consultants in the provider sector. Of course, the way in which the tapering applies where you do an extra shift and you’re hit with a tax bill, we need to review it. If I’m honest, if I came up with a solution from my back pocket now, you wouldn’t believe me. This is very complex.'
    He added that Labour, if elected, would 'look at this urgently'.
    Punchline : It is indeed something very complex and I can only keep looking at it . Boom ! Oh no , it is exploding and I have to distance myself away from it now but I am still looking at it 😅🤣😂

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  • @Vinci Ho 7:53pm.

    Spot on....thanks for breaking it down for simple minds like me!

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  • Never heard of him before.
    Saw him interviewed on TV tonight.
    He came across as one of those ‘school leavers on computers’ that NHS24/111 use.
    He also came across as a highly buffed idiot. Not much use to anyone wanting medical care, I’m afraid.

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  • MDT meeting
    PCN meeting
    MCP meeting
    Safeguarding meeting
    CCG meeting
    A load of mental health patients with no backup
    Finish you career unable to take blood read Xrays ECGs or risks.

    Whats not to like!

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  • General Practice is exciting in the same way that getting chased by a rabid dog is exciting.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    You're all so NEGATIVE! It can be a wonderful, rewarding and well-paid job.

    Just not in the UK.

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  • "GPs' working conditions are 'lonely' and 'damage' patient relationship, warns GMC" - with headlines like this good luck. PULSE seems to like shooting itself in the a***.

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  • this is a man who has never worked in the NHS, in fact has worked for the labour party all his working life either as a researcher or an MP, so I would consider as having never done a proper job in his life either, advising us how to suck eggs. i would suggest he works in the NHS for a year and see what he suggest then. Otherwise he is just talking out of his woefully inexperienced anal canal. In his BBC interview he laughed at the suggestion that NHS staff would get a 32 hour working week in the next 10 years and it would not happen. Glad to see he's on our side then.

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  • by the way general practice is exciting when its properly funded and well paid - unfortunately this no longer applies to the UK so most of the GP trainees i meet are looking to work abroad instead. just so you know, Mr shadow health secretary, as you have no experience of working in the NHS at any level. More than happy to spend an hour or more with you to discuss my feelings on the matter.

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  • You could argue Russian roulette is "exciting". I can only assume he's using the same definition of exciting in this quote

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  • General Practice is still available properly funded - outside the NHS. The NHS is the problem, not GP.

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  • ItSaDoGsLiFe

    Some of my on call days are about as much fun as a session of water-boarding.
    Exciting?....... No.
    Torture would be a more accurate description.

    A career in general practice nowadays is more like a prison sentence.
    But without the prospect of an early release for good behaviour.

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  • Well GP land certainly is exciting, but not in a good way.

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  • Sticking your gonads in a jam jar full of scorpions is also exciting but like a career in general practice you wouldn’t choose to do it...

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