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Independents' Day

Hunt says seven-day working should not compromise continuity of care

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised to cut back QOF to enable GPs to deliver seven-day working, and has rejected concerns that greater access will compromise continuity of care.

Mr Hunt said at the RCGP conference in Harrogate yesterday there was ‘some mileage’ in cutting back the QOF to free up GPs’ time and take a more proactive approach to care, in turn delivering savings that could be put back into the system.

He emphasised that pilots of extended access in the evening and at weekends were going to receive additional funding - £50 million in total – and told delegates that the Government would cut bureaucracy to enable GPs to deliver the 24/7 ‘named clinician’ service to the vulnerable elderly first unveiled earlier this month,.

He said he was ‘passionate in his support of general practice’ and that GPs’ role ‘is absolutely fundamental if the NHS is going to be sustainable in the future’.

But he refused to be drawn on what specific additional resources will be available to support plans for GPs to take on more responsibility and denied that plans for seven-day-a-week access would impact on continuity of care.

Mr Hunt said: ‘The only way we are really going to solve this is if you save money by more proactive care, some of the savings you make for the NHS will flow back to your practices.’

He added: ‘I don’t believe we do have a choice between access and continuity of care, I think it depends on the type of patient. I think if you’re a normally fit and healthy person you will want easier access to your GP, but you may be more flexible about whether that is the same GP.

‘If you’re someone with complex long-term conditions who is much older, although you may not be able to see the same GP it will be very helpful a ‘controlling guide’ who is taking responsibility for your overall care package. I think we need to find the right solution for all different groups of people.’

But RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said she was not confident in the promises that GPs would have extra time to carry out what the Government is asking for, citing figures released by the college yesterday that showed a 7% cut in GP funding since 2010.

She said: ‘I’m not 100% sure my confidence is spurred because there is no new money out there other than this £50 million for the pilots. We are actually at serious risk of destabilising the NHS. Of course we have to trade continuity - you can only have two out of the three of access, continuity and affordability.

‘I think if we can put politics behind and start putting what’s best for the NHS and our population then perhaps we can begin having a serious discussion about not just addressing the £400m shortfall that was the sum announced today, but actually over a £1bn shortfall if you start to factor in all the cost reductions that general practice has had over the last few years.’

Readers' comments (20)

  • As predicted Mr Hunt is using the same slight of hand as his predecessors to finance 24/7care.Worse however is that he is suggesting that he is doing us a great favour by freeing up daytime hours so that we can then re-use these hours at nights and weekends to provide the service he wants.One can see how this will be presented to the public in a 'What's the Problem?' fashion.

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  • What a Halfwit!

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  • 'some mileage’ in cutting back the QOF to free up GPs’ time + politician = we wont cut back.

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  • We already have proactive care here and it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to my ever growing workload. Any savings from admissions will go straight into hospital coffers and Hunt knows this. What he wants is GPs doing 100 hour weeks so we can do continuity and pander to the desires of the commuting consumer classes. I say enough is enough - this will literally kill us. Time to bring in fee for service and GP cover plans.

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  • What does Heremy Junt think GPs do? In all of my ex career as a GG( I took VER earlier this year) I was always responsible for the care of patients. If I made a mistake the solicitors letter sued me not a politician. I even worked a 1 in 2 rota for 46 weeks a year and a 1 in 1 rota in holiday periods. Was this providing better care? Of course not! It generated resentful, tired, burnt out doctors, young and old.

    I pondered over my options in recent years and chose VER, erasure from the GMC, downsizing the family home, paying off debts and spending less.

    A path I would strongly recommend to all those in the last 25% of their potential working career . Those awful hospital Rita's were always justified then by being told 'well you'll get a good pension eventually!'
    Well cash it in and enjoy it.

    GP is dead

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  • What he means is he will stop paying for QOF and offer some of it as a carrot to work 24/7 all year round.

    A return to the make believe era most favoured by Daily Mail readers called Dr Findlays Casebook!

    What a joke. Just get out as soon as you can!

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  • We have already lost the public relations exercise.We don't have the public's sympathy.Judging from the comments of the folowing DT article they're pretty hostile towards GPs:

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  • This comment has been deleted by the moderator

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  • Yes, i agree with above but are you aware that as Paul Dacre, Daily Mail editor is such a powerful media tycoon, he is effectively above the law and beyond challenge. Everyone is frightened of him.
    You may not be aware that other media groups especially smaller ones are frightened of offending his ego so often refuse to print any trivia that might displease him??

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  • Don't worry, we are not scared of him

  • The naive idea that you can save money in the health service by more proactive care was first enunciated by Aneurin Bevan in about 1946, and look where that got us. Fact is, the more attention you pay to people's health, the more problems you unearth, and costs go up not down. Will we never learn lessons from history, perhaps not, of it does not suit
    the spin of the day.

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