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Viewpoint: What is the health secretary trying to achieve?

Dr Paul Charlson breaks down what the future will hold for GPs, according to Mr Hunt’s plans.

Jeremy Hunt knows there needs to be recognition of practices that provide excellent personal care and good access, and that this is not taken into account in the present

GP contract.

Patients want better access to GPs and a shift back to the family GP, so a move towards this is likely to be a popular policy. Mr Hunt of course recognises that GPs cannot work all night and then all day, but we have to take responsibility for the provision of 24-hour care.

Named GPs

The most vulnerable patients need the assurance that they have someone to go to if they need to in the middle of the night, and A&E is not appropriate. As a named GP, I would be happy to ensure that a proper plan is in place for this group and that is the thrust of the policy. 

The reduction of targets is in direct response to GPs who have said that there is too much bureaucracy and this is affecting patient care. Data gathering outside the consultation is tedious and often prevents GPs concentrating on softer but more important work.

Politically, it is the right thing to do, trusting GPs’ professionalism to do the best for patients without descending into a fireside chat with no hard data or outcome measures. Patients want quality time with their GP. The point is to make the most of GPs’ time and this represents the health secretary responding to GPs and patients in a positive way.

Dr Paul Charlson is a GP in east Yorkshire and head of policy for Conservative Health. He is writing in a personal capacity.

Readers' comments (20)

  • Yep, anyone with any sense will be gone by April. All politicians are peddling the same nonsense so a General Election will make no difference. The media also hate GPs. As a persecuted minority the best course of action is to leave the country. Read your history books.....

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  • James hunt is a joke as a health secretary.
    He has no valid policy.
    He shouldn't even be a minister let alone a health secretary.
    Unfortunately when you have appalling RCGP leads like Clare Gerada it doesn't help

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  • Better access to a GP. Fine. So, how many patients should a GP see in a day ? How many hours should a GP work ?. We GPs do not define this. That is the basic problem. Define health and safety first and all problems will become easier. Pilots do not complain everyday of their workloads.

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  • Tessa Bowater

    What an odd little article. It really doesn't tell us much more than the author supports Hunt. In agreement with others here, "it is the right thing to do" really doesn't wash. A bit like IDS and his policies based on no research, based on his thoughts. And the issue of 24 hour care has been neatly left up in the air. The author, Dr Charlson, is head of policy for Conservative Health, that says it all really. A poor article that really isn't of a standard to be published.

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  • Is Dr Paul Charlson the same Dr Paul Charlson whos private cosmetic website features a picture of him in Downing Street. I only ask as this seems to represent somewhat of a conflict of interests if he is allowed this voice box on the acceptability of Hunt's plans with a tiny note just mentioning his being head of policy for Conservative Health. Perhaps a more accurate summary could be Declaired Conservative supports Conservative policy?

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  • Many thanks for your comments... Just to clarify, Dr Charlson was invited to write this piece in order to offer some insight into the thinking behind - and politics of - Mr Hunt's general practice reforms.

    Dr Charlson is obviously writing from the perspective of a prominent Conservative party supporter, as is clearly stated in the article - however we believe it is this, plus his close contacts with ministers, which makes him ideally placed to explain a set of reforms which will have a major impact on the profession.

    Steve Nowottny
    Editor, Pulse

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  • If this is the well thought out reasoning that takes place at Conservative Health, we are best served to ignore them for analysis and serious, sensible solutions.

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  • I must admit I find it awfully galling to be "represented" by all these terribly nice, smiley chaps and chapesses who, too a doctor, have all vastly reduced their contributions to the coal face of NHS primary care in order to take up many other rolls, some involving lucrative private practice and many more involved in preaching to those that they have left behind as serfs at the Hell that the coal face has become. .

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  • Mr Hunt recognises I'm sure - where he gives a monkeys is another matter! Somehow I suspect not!

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  • champagne tastes ; lemonade money

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