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Independents' Day

PM announces 'new deal' for GPs

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

In his first speech since the election, Prime Minister David Cameron said his vision was ‘a modern NHS working for you seven days a week’ adding that it ‘begins with a transformation of primary care’.

Speaking at a GP practice in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said: We must have proper joined up care built around what patients need: family doctors working together with hospital doctors, community nurses and carers and electronic health records available at the touch of a fingertip, all giving patients a real say over how they are cared for and who cares for them. That’s all in the plan.

‘So is a new deal for GPs with more investment, more training and a more personal link with patients. So is faster access to new drugs and treatments. And so is a proper focus on mental health.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, interviewed on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, said more details would be revealed next month but the deal will also focus on relieving the workload burden on existing GPs and tackling the problems with burnout.

He said that without GPs the NHS ‘does not have a future’.

He told the BBC: ‘We need to look at the terms and conditions of general practice, 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.’

He added: ‘We need to look at the contracting arrangements around locums, look at the things in the GP contract that put people off becoming a GP. And at the heart of it, two things, GPs need to feel that they are valued, they need to feel that they are part of the future.

‘If you talk to GPs about what puts them off, they feel they aren’t valued as part of the future, and I’m saying that the NHS doesn’t have a future without doctors.’

The RCGP has been calling for a new deal for general practice, but commenting this morning RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said the Government’s seven-day access pledges risked creating patient expectations that GPs currently cannot meet.

She said: ‘[W]e have a severe shortage of GPs and it is difficult to see how this will work without major investment in general practice and a major boost to the GP workforce.

‘Many practices are already offering extended opening hours but for the majority, seven day opening remains an aspiration and 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.’

The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October last year, also mentioned the new deal, which was to see NHS England investing ‘a much higher proportion’ of its budget on GP services including premises and a promise to ‘stabilise core funding’ for GPs for the next two years.

The news comes as Pulse has been campaigning for NHS England to tackle GP burnout and reinstate comprehensive occupational and mental health support for GPs and Pulse launched its second national GP burnout survey in March.

Readers' comments (135)

  • A unique opportunity to work yourself to death .

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  • The five year plan. Isn't that slightly Stalinist .

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  • Bob Hodges

    Da Tovarich!

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  • He said that without GPs the NHS ‘does not have a future’.

    Oh, so that's the plan! No GPs no NHS, no NHS loads of dosh for HMOs.
    'Improve' T+Cs for doctors by announcing payrise and premesis improvement but linked to 7/7 opening we all leave, daily wail and public blame us- job done.

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  • its interesting that he will be announcing this publicly and not discussing it with the profession first. says all you need to know.

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  • A review is not what is needed that common sense and a realisation that the reason for 'GP burnout ' is due to all the firefighting we have had to do by the arsonist politicians

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  • His statements 'I've removed around 40% of the targets in the GP contract' is misleading. He's pruned bits and bobs off the QOF which hasn't really reduced its workload. And at least QOF is clinical. The contract changes over the last 2 years have been sweeping and onerous- abolishing PPG DES and Alcohol screening DES, moving those into 'core'. Reinvesting DESs which were funded on number of registered patients to global sum paid on weighted patient. Both of these things have reduced real income.

    And as for the Unplanned Admissions DES, named GP for every patient and same day appointments for over 75s- what an example of focusing resources on people who might vote Tory, rather than based on any clinical evidence.

    We need to channel the reduced NHS budget on based on clinical need- there is no NEED for people to be seen by a GP at the weekend for routine stuff- we already have an out of hours service!

    Let's see if he can do something about the shocking waste of appointments by patients who DNA- make people appreciate what they've got rather than offer them pie in the sky.

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  • I found this remark interesting
    He added: ‘We need to look at the contracting arrangements around locums,'
    Anyone any idea about how he proposes to do this?
    And what legislation would be needed to allow legal regulation of short term contracts, presumably only applicable to the NHS?
    Or is that prevented by the HRA?

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  • Vinci Ho

    This is now a game of trust and belief.
    Do you trust and believe in these guys?
    I know my own answers,don't you?

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  • I have just finished my surgery which started at 7:30 this morning and am wondering how many other professionals, lawyers accountants and the like would be seeing their clients early to allow them to get to work without charging a hefty premium? What has been missing is what the role of the GP is in the modern NHS? AJ Cronin's fictional character Dr Finlay is what most people romantically expect their GP to be like, sadly the world has moved on and with the increasing complexity and multi co-morbidities and treatment options the job is more akin to the general physician with special interest in everything else! The business model of how GP's get paid and the games that are played to try and restrict the ability to earn by tweaking the national contract coupled with the rising public expectation is what is driving people away from the profession. There is no consistency across the country of what is commissioned from primary care and even less knowledge of the outcomes other than QOF. There is very little career progression or reward for experience which is why many retire before their time. Political promises won't be realised unless the profession are willing and agreeable. Judging by the numbers in training and the unfilled posts the crisis is real and the deal to be offered needs to reflect and repair the damage.

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