This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

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.’

Related images

  • Jeremy Hunt - online

Readers' comments (89)

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Peter Swinyard
    No, the FDA is not amused at the attack on consultants either...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is a vacancy at the circus JH.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say