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Jeremy Hunt rejects Tory proposal to limit GP appointments

The health secretary has vowed to ‘never’ to limit the number of appointments patients can make with their GP, after Conservative Party members were asked their opinion on the controversial idea to make savings.

A policy discussion document distributed by the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) had asked party members to comment on a number of controversial statements regarding GP care, including whether there could be an annual cap on the number of times patients can see their GP in a year.

But commenting yesterday via his official Twitter account, Jeremy Hunt said: ‘It IS NOT and WAS NEVER going to be Conservative policy to limit GP appointments.’

The comment also referred to an online public petition by campaign group 38Degrees, which received 180,000 signatures in just 48 hours after a number of national newspapers had picked up the story and the GPC had branded the suggestion as ‘absurd’.

Also commenting on Twitter, RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said: ‘Good that @Jeremy_Hunt says will be no rationing of access to general practice care.’

But Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham who sits on the GPC and was a founding member of the Health Action Party against NHS reforms, said: ‘I think this story is a “non event” and diversion from real threats. Was never going to happen.’

38Degrees chief executive David Babbs commented: ‘It looks like we may have nipped it in the bud. By working together in big enough numbers, we’ve forced a leading politician to change his tune in just 48 hours.’

As well as limiting GP appointments, the CPF had asked party members for their thoughts on penalties for DNAs and GPs providing appointments out of hours.

Click here to read the Conservative Policy Forum discussion brief

Readers' comments (4)

  • Vinci Ho

    From the point of politics , making suggestion like that is even stupid and self destructive.
    That just tells you the 'quality' of politicians within the current government but perhaps also the ' true colours' of Tory Party......

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  • I have just got out of GP after 27 years by taking VER. Best decision I ever made. What with all the CCGS CQC revalidation being handed back OOH etc etc etc it was time to stand down.

    However I think this proposal could have been interesting. In my career I spent around 85% of my time seeing around 15% of the same people year after year when one of them left or died another took their place.

    Off these 15% of people addicted to free access to doctors about 85% of them had nothing wrong with them and the outcome would have been the same whether they had had their regular fix of seeing a doctor or even if they had seen a plumber!

    The remaining 15% often needed slight tweeting of medication etc etc.

    The vast majority of significant diagnosis and time well spent was in the group who seldom attended.

    Rationing seems like a good idea to me

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  • May be a sensible idea (with GPs making their own exceptions for those truly in need) but certainly a vote loser. We all know that decisions with the NHS are based on votes first and sound judgement second so will never happen.

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  • This is a ploy to detract from their long term plan -i.e privatisation. We have seen this before - make a suggestion for a massive change with a few more “acceptable" changes. Back down on the biggy and what do we see? the first payments to creep in. This makes it so much easier to introduce others! Whilst I agree that DNA and scripts for OTC meds needs addressing what has happened to the NHS under the current government suggests preparation for a big sell off so anything that includes payment makes it more attractive.

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