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Independents' Day

What happened when I quizzed Jeremy Hunt on the GP workforce crisis

Dr James Howarth wrote to Pulse after he questioned Jeremy Hunt about filling staff gaps in the NHS

In an unlikely turn of events, Jeremy Hunt, who held on to his seat in Surrey South West last night, came to Mablethorpe to speak to a small group of the electorate last month. Oddly, no-one from health was invited, but as you see from the below picture, my seven-year-old daughter Maddy was worried about the effect of forthcoming changes on her small world and I was worried about politicians fundamentally messing with the NHS again. So my practice manager and I sneaked in anyway.



There were questions about local issues such as the unfunded wave of temporary residents hitting the east coast every summer. He countered worries over losing local maternity services with the standard response that ‘local GPs will decide on that.’ But despite this use of clinical commissioning to deflect that question, I sensed an undercurrent of dislike for CCGs (he kept referring to the ‘odd decisions’ made by his predecessor).

I asked him how he would resource seven-day working and the continuing devolution of services from secondary to primary care given our workforce crisis. The answer was with 5,000 extra GPs.

I asked him how we could manage for the ten years it would take to train them. This is what I understood from his response:

1 Apparently we should change our models to use nurses more to see patients. He seems unaware of how much nurses contribute to general practice already.

2 He will give us some physician assistants, whatever they are.

3 Every GP should have a personal assistant to take notes, blood tests and blood pressures. So a PA to do what I already do.

I suggested I wasn’t entirely convinced by these plans. He countered that he is an optimist and I am a pessimist. I was hoping for realist…

Dr James Howarth is a GP in Mablethorpe.

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Readers' comments (16)

  • He sounds a complete numptie.

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  • many posters have already predicted what you concluded. there is a feeling that the RCGP, GMC, NHSE, BMA, and DOH are one big happy family. GPs just get in the way and need to be assimilated and controlled. This is the next step. Once all salaried the last step will be shipping over to private control. Goodbye General Practice. RIP.

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  • Well something needs to be done! We cannot continue like this!
    The health and social care act 2012 should be withdrawn.
    The system needs a complete overhaul rethink refunding etc.
    The first question to be asked is what does a truly excellent system look like? Would it work here? What would it cost? How do we fund it? How soon can we enact it? How do we get the current stake holders to buy into it?

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  • The fundamental problem that Jeremy is failing to address is that 5000 GP's will only replace those that are leaving. Here I am obviously being optimistic . The loss may be much greater over the next 5 years . If there is any justice Jeremy will be the Health secretary when primary care caves in.

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  • 11.56 -optimism bordering on mania I should think !

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  • The optimsts glass is half full.
    The pessimists one is half empty.
    The pragmatist drinks both..
    The realist buys another round.

    Let's see who is in their job in 5 years time. My money is on you Dr Howarth. Good luck.

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  • What a sorry person for a human being

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  • I asked him something simlar, and got an equally s****y response: (2nd question)

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  • makes you question his IQ LEVEL.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • No one can make a GP work with a physician assistant or a pharmacist or a road sweeper or builder.
    How will they sell this plan and undermine the ability of a highly skilled and intelligent professional, undermined by nonnegotiable demographics and countless non-innovative ideas and what is the back hand deal in the pipe line to some new recruitment agency?

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