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GPs go forth

PM promises a ‘new deal’ for general practice

David Cameron is promising a transformation of primary care in this parliament, finds Alex Matthews-King

The Government is promising a ‘new deal’ for GPs, including a review of the GP contract to make the job more attractive.

David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron used his first speech since he was returned to Downing Street at the general election to say that his second term would see ‘a transformation of primary care’.

He gave little detail on what the ‘new deal’ would entail, but said general practice should expect ‘more investment, more training and a more personal link with patients’.

Jeremy Hunt, reappointed as health secretary by Mr Cameron, said in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that details of the new deal would be revealed this month.

He told the programme: ‘We need to look at the terms and conditions of general practice; we need to look at why GPs have so much burnout. We need to look at the contract – I’ve already got rid of about 40% of the targets in the GP contract – and, as I say, we have recruited more GPs.’

Mr Hunt hinted that lesser-qualified healthcare staff – such as physician assistants – would take on more work in primary care and that he was looking at the contractual arrangements for locums.

The Department of Health was unable to elaborate on the health secretary’s plans, but confirmed they would be announced in a speech later this month.

Longer GP waiting times

Commentators said it was significant that the PM chose to address the subject of the NHS in his first major speech since the election, particularly after the health service featured so prominently in the election campaign.

Daily Mail front page

The day before the election, the Daily Mail, normally the Conservatives’ staunchest supporter, covered the results of a Pulse survey that showed GPs predict average waiting times for appointments will reach two weeks within 12 months.

Mr Cameron gave his speech at the Vitality Partnership in Birmingham, one of the successful bidders for his £400m seven-day access Challenge Fund.

The PM said he wanted everyone to have access to a GP ‘at mornings, evenings and weekends’.

He added that his vision was to ‘rethink’ what primary care could be: ‘Prevention, not just treatment. Tackling causes, not just symptoms. Treating the whole person, not just an individual ailment.’

 He painted a picture of a patient being able to use an ‘app to book appointments for before or after work, order a repeat prescription online and have it delivered to his home, and even use Skype, FaceTime or email to get advice without setting foot outside his front door’.

 But GP leaders said it was impossible for GPs to do more under current resources.


RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker – who has been calling for a ‘new deal’ for GPs – said there was a risk that the Government’s seven-day access pledge would create unrealistic expectations among the public.

Dr Baker said: ‘Telling patients that they can walk into their local surgery in the evening or at weekends risks raising expectations that general practice cannot live up to with current resources.

‘It is difficult to see how this will work without major investment and a major boost to the GP workforce.’

 GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul was even more critical. He told last month’s LMCs Conference: ‘Now the election is out of the way, I call upon the Prime Minister to jettison the political pipedreams of tomorrow and get real about how we resource, resuscitate and rebuild general practice today.

 ‘Any new deal for general practice must start with workload, workload, workload. In the 25 years I’ve been a GP, it’s never been tougher.’

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Readers' comments (9)

  • A/E has an entrance and an exit.
    Too much political focus on then numbers coming in the entrance rather than what is stopping them leave the exit.

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  • Vinci Ho

    This 'deal' is heavily politicised
    To strike a deal , you need a bit of trust , credibility and 'sincerity' . What about getting rid of the 'spin doctor' health secretory as a start? The answer to that is of course, NO....,,,

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  • Dear Mr Cameron
    a new deal?
    a great deal worse!!
    I have been in general practice for nearly 30yrs and worked through All the various contracts and many re-organisations.
    Never before have I feared for the future wellbeing of jewel in the crown of the NHS that is General Practice than I do now.
    I have potentially 10yrs to give GP (as experienced all round GP with specialist clinical and mangement experience),but the way things are and the way they are heading,10months will bw a challenge.
    I speak not only for my self,but for all those dedicated GPs commited to the fundamental ethos of primary care the the founding principles of NHS health care.

    ps.when all is privatised,the private sector will give you a REAL run for your money and then you will look back nostalgically at the good old days of GP and the NHS
    Good luck and may the farce be with you

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  • Here we are again...... election over, still moaning that it isn't working................ and still denegrating every single suggestion that anyone makes regarding changing it and putting it right.

    Stand up and be counted........... suggest alternatives rather than just whinge.

    Take control of the change that is needed rather than sit back and be be dictated to.

    otherwise shut up and retire.

    Whinging and whining never solved a crisis.

    Positive action in numbers is what is needed stand up collectively, making GP's a very large "Army," and YOU decide what YOU in General Practice need and YOU, collectively, MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

    Moan Moan Moan nothing ever changes moan moan moan bloody Tory governments moan moan moan bloody Daily Mail moan moan moan.

    A bit of positivity wouldn't go amiss!!!

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  • I wonder if the government will actually consult with any GP's when devising this "new deal"!

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  • Unilateral contract making ! Why ask those on the ground that may know a thing or two about the inner workings of primary care? Ask the fat cats way up there that are being fed canaries and know f@&k all about the real world. And then there is Mr pseudo-doctor Hunt Aka wrecking ball. They better have an excellent contingency plan or we are stuffed.

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  • Noise blocking headphones are now part of my doctors bag. Nothing has changed in my GPs room, treatment of noise is a novelty. The change is the waste accumulating outside their door.

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  • new deal = work 24/7 for free and one mistake to jail.

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  • It saddens me that as GPs we dont really have any collective powers. On the plus side, we do not really have to do much as the market is starting to experience GP withdrawal symptoms heee heee

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