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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)

  • 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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