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Hunt: 'I've yet to meet a doctor who doesn't want seven-day working'

The health secretary has claimed that he has ‘yet to meet’ a doctor who is not in favour of weekend working, adding that the BMA is out of touch with its members for opposing the Government’s plans.

Speaking at an event at the King’s Fund today, Jeremy Hunt claimed that all the royal colleges supported seven-day working and he ‘can’t hide his frustration’ at the BMA’s stance.

He said today that he was planning to impose seven-day working on newly qualified hospital consultants, but acknowledged that seven-day GP services would be harder.

The Government was ‘starting to have a good dialogue with the GP profession about the best way to do that [seven-day working]’, he added.

However, the health secretary said: ‘My frustration isn’t with doctors. I’ve yet to meet a doctor who doesn’t want to move to seven-day working. They are all very enthusiastic, and the royal colleges support this, but I can’t hide my frustration with the BMA.’

Speaking at the King’s Fund event, Mr Hunt acknowledged that ‘a very big capacity problem’ meant his seven-day general practice plans faced ‘different problems’ but underlined that, despite this, it was ‘essential’ to introduce ‘a seven-day NHS across primary and secondary care’.

Despite the claim that the royal colleges support his plans, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker took a stronger tone by saying GPs are already ‘being pushed to our limits in trying to provide a safe five-day service’ and that the health secretary’s speech sounded ‘alarm bells’ for GPs.

Meanwhile, NHS England has identified the GP contract as a ‘constraint’ to the rollout of the Government’s seven-day working plan, an independent report into seven-day working has revealed.

The NHS Pay Review body’s report on seven-day working said: ‘NHS England told us they had identified a number of constraints, including Agenda for Change staff pay, consultant and GP contracts, and working time, which constrain staffing and create uplifts for weekend work, thus increasing the cost.’

A spokesperson for Mr Hunt said he ‘would not speculate on [GP contract] negotiations’ at this point in time.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that although every doctor works to ensure there is ‘24/7’ access to GP services, ‘very few see the need for a routine care service on a Sunday afternoon’.

He said: ‘We do have a good dialogue and relationship with the secretary of state and NHS England and are trying to encourage them to see that the way to deliver their seven-day agenda is to build on and invest in the current urgent care service rather than creating a parallel service that ultimately undermine each other leading to poorer care for the patients in the area.’

He added: ‘The GP contract is not a block to change but, if invested in properly, provides a solid foundation on which to build.’

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  • Jeremy Hunt - online

Readers' comments (89)

  • Hunt: 'I've yet to meet a doctor who doesn't want seven-day working'

    "although I've yet to meet a doctor who likes me though."

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  • Dr Porter did you accidentally anaesthetise the soon to be Minister for Trees and Flowers as he must have forgotten the last 2 years.......

    http://web2.bma.org.uk/pressrel.nsf/wall/04ED6F506732F75980257E840015BCEC?OpenDocument

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  • Vinci Ho

    Clever agent:
    Royal colleges are my 'friends' but BMA is my enemy, which leaves GPC , where?

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  • Presumably he has never met a tube-driver who is not in favour of 24/24 working either?

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  • This man's delusional state continues to cause grave concern.

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  • It's because he's never met a doctor .

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  • Brilliant from Jezza he plans to get all those new GPs by making the consultants working lives so crap they switch to primary care,the man is a genius

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  • Why not invest adequately in OOH services ? Is this too obvious ? With proper funding a good ooh service would fill this role .

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  • *sshol*s!

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  • seriously folks, do we need to be concerned at his delusional state.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • 7 day working with a fully operational and adequately funded system is far different to running a 7day service with the same current funding that barely supports what we have;

    more for less is the mantra........come up with the money hunt to fund this and the staff numbers to run this and im sure you will see support; as usual though it'll just be more work on less money and will be reliant on goodwill or outright bullying to make it work;

    in other parts of the world if they want you to do something they pay you!! not beat you with a stick and make threats that changes will be imposed!!!!!

    no wonder uk is losing its brightest and bests for shores abroad....

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  • "Meanwhile, NHS England has identified the GP contract as a ‘constraint’ to the rollout of the Government’s seven-day working plan, an independent report into seven-day working has revealed"

    One of the many reasons they want to abolish the ICS. After the PMS reviews, they are planning a radical new contract - what are the bets we will be forced to work 7 days within it?

    I really hope the GPC is ready for the fight

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  • I used to regularly work over 60 hours a week as a partner, admittedly not at the weekend.
    But since the government screwed up my pension, I quit my partnership, and cut back my NHS work to just 2 salaried sessions a week. I spend the rest of the time doing private work or other things entirely.
    I’d be very interested to hear how Jeremy Hunt is going to make me work weekends.
    Thumb-screws perhaps?

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  • Perhaps if he hadn't ducked out of his Pulse Live interview he'd have met a few......

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  • I can't get my head round this.

    Has this guy met any doctors at all?

    We all agree that emergency and urgent care needs to be 7/7, 24/7, but routine care at the weekends is something we can't afford (have to pay reception staff, nurses as well as the docs), and there is not the demand for.

    What the real demand is for in primary care is enough routine appointments in the week. Having routine appts at the weekend is not as important as having enough during the week.

    Many of my extended hours appointments are used by small children and the elderly, who could have come at any time, but that was the only appointment available.

    This is daft.

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  • I have yet to meet a politician that does not lie

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  • 'I've yet to meet a politician who works seven-days a week'

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  • 7 day retirement in a few months. 55 and no more unreasonable unrealistic expectations from patients and political masters. But even in retirement won't have as many weeks holiday as the politicians do or 11% pay rise.
    we need len mcluskey as our union representative

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Wake up GPs! Why are CCGs told to save millions while at the same time brand new modern multimillion pound state of the art hospitals are being built? Why are GP partnerships being made financially unviable?

    In America, private hospitals are HUGE, modern, multimillion pound buildings with state of the art facilities and one patient rooms. The government is preparing to sell these new NHS hospitals to the private sector. They don't need NHS GP partnerships competing with the private sector. They are letting go of anything they cannot sell. And the only value a NHS GP has in the private sector is as a salaried employee in one of their private hospitals.

    I have been invited to write a piece in the Indy to challenge Hunt's 7 day GP service. Look out for it! Written and sent off. And I blame the NHS for brainwashing me to writing for the Indy for no pay! I would definitely be a penniless hungry journo if I keep this up! Must think self respect, self worth, start charging!

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  • If you can smell that Burning it's because his pants are on fire

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  • Another week
    Another delusional scheme
    This is a loathsome revolting serial liar

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  • We all new the Tories would do this. Can't understand why we voted for them.

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  • *knew

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  • he wants to do away with out of hours and hand it back to GPs and looks like he might do it unless people stop moaning and say no.

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  • What he doesn't realise is that he's now crossed the line. The public thinks we're all lazy fat cats that are only good enough to prescribe paracetamol. However they respect "specialists" and hospital doctors in general as they believe they're "real" doctors. Easy to promote propaganda against us but they're barking up the wrong tree with consultants.

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  • yeah he done fuzucked with the wrong dudes now.
    And surprisingly the BMA finally grew some balls. OK to mess with GPs but done touch our consultants

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    The cat is out of the bag...https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/richard-grimes/government-moves-to-consider-nhs-user-charges. Either go independent and set up your own fee per service private GP practice or become an assembly-line salaried worker for a private company. You cannot gloss over a £1.5 trillion public deficit or the £700 million of taxpayers' money, Osborne is 'lending' Greece in the latest bailout.

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  • What problem needs solving?
    If doctors in acute specialities work unsocial hours, why pick a fight about contracts?
    Why use acute death rates as a reason to force weekend dermatology clinics on highly skilled professionals?
    What is his problem?

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  • 'Meanwhile, NHS England has identified the GP contract as a ‘constraint’ to the rollout of the Government’s seven-day working plan, an independent report into seven-day working has revealed.'
    That's why contracts exist in employment law!

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  • The country needs to be run 365 days a year 24 hrs a day.MPs need to do 7 day weeks 24 hrs a day with no winter summer or spring recesses,come on its only what the country needs!

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  • Sorry??? I think there are a lot of doctors against working in the weekend. I am certainly one of them. Get real Mr Hunt. All he is wanting to do is gain brownie points with the voters who are not doctors. He is certainly not gaining any with me. He is totally out of touch with doctors/GP's and possibly even our patients. Not many patients wish to have an appt on a Sunday, that's a day for rest for them.
    He certainly has a good way of getting all doctors in arms against him. Now he is attacking hospital doctors as well. They now also have to agree to working weekends, I understand from the news, before September or have it forced on them by forced changes to the contract.
    This to me just sounds like a way of getting his own way, when hospital doctors, just like we GPs have been asked to do, accept to work weekends, Hunt can put it through as 'they felt it was needed and they wanted it as well, it was their choice'. Something I seriously doubt.
    No doctor in their right mind wants to work 7 days a week. That's asking for mistakes to be made due to doctors being overtired and overstressed/stretched.

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  • I want the NHS to provide a cure for death 24/7 or I'll rip your heart out!

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  • I would like the politicians to work less hard. I would give them 11 months off in the year: that way we won't have to put up with their useless legislation, hare-brained ideas, and policies that serve their corporate masters.

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  • I get the feeling that every Health Minister feels the need to do something big hairy and ugly during their term regardless of its worth.

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  • He may have just solved the GP crisis

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  • What kind of stupid is this man?

    Currently consultants agree a job plan with their hospital. This may include antisocial hours, weekend shifts or on call rotas. This impacts on the sessions they are paid for.

    Where is the problem?

    If HMG feel it is important to do non urgent work at the weekend, such as extra elective theatre lists or outpatient clinics, there is a mechanism to either agree this in the job plan or offer financial incentives for extra work.

    Why force this on all consultants?

    If this goes through the obvious outcome will be that many highly skilled consultants resign from their post, yet continue to work for the NHS on locum contracts during the week.

    Thus the financial savings (for that is what this is about) made by getting cheap weekend working are destroyed by the higher locum costs and further erosion of good will (negative goodwill?).

    5 years later the then health secretary will have to announce a plan to make consultant careers more flexible, with local negotiation and job planning in order to retain staff and reduce locum costs.

    This strange man Hunt seems to want to pick fights where there are none to be had - doctors work at weekends!

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  • all part of a cunning plan.
    bean counters have worked out nhs is unaffordable.
    problem is how to get rid of it without the political suicide note of the politicians that destoyed the nhs.
    answer, do it covertly, slag of the gp's so no one wants to be a gp and that bit of system fails, already happening.
    next p**s off the consultants so they leave the nhs, about to happen.
    5 years of chaos then the private companies ride to the rescue.
    5 years from now nhs part privatised.
    10 years time fully privatised.
    watch it happen and weep.

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  • He seems to have a form of Tourette's, keeps blurting out any old shite about gp's consultants and the NHS in general .A new blurt every day .Jim Doherty on The Today program was so right !

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  • Well Mr £unt here's one doctor that says NO to 7 day General Practice.
    4 years to go. Just withdrawn from the NHS pension scheme. Temporarily perhaps if terms improve.
    But can't wait to get away from that 'rse'ole.

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  • Ornithology is a relaxing hobby - but I won't be able to do it with 7 day working . Anyway thanks for the picture of the Greater Spotted Fuckwit.

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  • "I've yet to meet a doctor who doesn't want 7 day working" - he clearly needs to get out more!

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  • A lot of current issues facing the NHS have been engineered by this man to create a smoke screen so that he can facilitate privatisation.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    oh dear. I know SoS is keen on early dementia diagnosis - so one can allow forgetfulness.
    I have met him.
    I do not think 7 day ROUTINE working is do-able or affordable in general practice and debatable if affordable in secondary care.
    So he has met a doctor who......

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  • Peter Swinyard

    http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/724231/0aeb244df1/ARCHIVE
    No, the FDA is not amused at the attack on consultants either...

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  • There is a vacancy at the circus JH.

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  • Most economists will agree NHS will need extra 20-40% more funding to operate 2 more days/week as per normal working day.

    Given NHS is already in deficit, to the tune of several billions every year, how does this an propose to fund the service?

    I'm not sure why this simple question has not been asked by any media. Perhaps none of the current media would dare ask difficult question for various political reasons?

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  • i think we are missing the point - what he and Keogh want is an end to extra weekend payments i.e. the weekend will be viewed like any day of the week - they want to enforce this on all staff. the savings will be used to pay for extra staff needed to operate like a normal weekday service. He goes on about not expecting anyone to work longer than they are contracted but most doctors already do. There needs to be a move to work to rule - if they want their 7 day a week service fine but only work for the hours paid. GPs have the option of exiting the NHS contract and working privately like dentists - if we don't exercise this option soon it will be superseded by alternative providers who will employ a battery of salaried gps and other staff (PAs etc). sadly the BMA are too cowardly and willing to please to raise this with grassroots. I fear the 'die has been cast' and General Practice as we know it will be gone within 5 years.

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  • 3.22 Spot on . This makes it clear why OOH is not going to be properly funded . It is clearly a practical solution if Jeremy wanted one. Obviously he doesn't.

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  • The problem is that the best tool we've ever used was mass undated resignation letters (2002), but if we do that now, he'll probably say 'thank you very much. That does the privatisation job for me, and what's more, I can blame you for doing it'.

    Work to rule could be effective, but in essence, we either need to raise public ire until they remove them from office, or until HMG back down.

    If they can keep the discontent below boiling point, they will buy enough time to do it anyway. If the service starts to fall apart at the seams any more, they may be able to tip it off the edge and get away with it as 'irretrievable' or push us down co-payment until we get to full insurance/self-pay anyway.

    Rock, meet hard place.

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  • GPs will be better off with a co-payment and insurance based system like the rest of the western world.

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