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Independents' Day

Hunt pledges to restore 'personal link' between GPs and patients

The ‘personal link’ between GPs and their patients will be restored from next April through introducing a named GP responsible for care for all vulnerable older people, pledged the health secretary in his speech to the Conservative party conference.

Jeremy Hunt said that the changes would mean that patients had someone to ‘champion’ their care and would correct the ‘mistake’ made in the 2004 GP contract.

Mr Hunt also pledged to give the CQC statutory independence from Government to prevent ministers putting pressure on the regulator to cover up failings.

He also claimed that plans released earlier today to pilot extended access to GPs in the evenings and at weekends would restore the ‘family doctor’.

In a speech to delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the health secretary said that transforming care out of hospital was the ‘one big change we need’ and called for a move towards preventative care, rather than curing illness.

He added that the GP contract introduced by Labour in 2004 saw a move away from named GPs, and in doing so ‘destroyed the personal link between patients and their GPs.

He also re-iterated his pledge for vulnerable, older people to have a named GP to champion their care, and said this would happen from next April.

He said: ‘Trust between a doctor and patient is what professionalism in the NHS stands for, and we should have never have allowed that GP contract to undermine that.’

‘So from next April we’ll be reversing that mistake for introducing a named GP responsible for care for all vulnerable, older people. Someone to be their champion in the integrated health and social care system we’ll be implementing from April following George Osbourne’s announcement in July. Restoring the link between doctor and patient, joining up the system that allowed too many people to fall through the cracks.’

A named clinician, along with plans for piloting extended opening hours announced today, will see a return to the idea of a ‘family doctor’, he said.

He told the conference: ‘We need to rediscover the idea of family doctors, making GPs more accessible for people at work as today’s announcement about piloting 8-8, seven day opening will do. But also giving GPs the time and space to care proactively for vulnerable, older patients. The people on their lists who are most ill, so they can keep tabs on them and help them stay well for longer.’

He also blasted the failures at Stafford Hospital - which he said were ‘covered up’ by Labour. He will introduce legislation as party of the Care Bill so that the CQC would be free from future political meddling in future, he said.

He said: ‘Today I can announce a major reform that will stop Labour or any Government ever trying to cover up poor care. We’ll legislate in the Care Bill to give the CQC statutory independence, rather like the Bank of England has over interest rates, so ministers can never again lean on it to suppress bad news.

‘The care of our NHS patients is too important for political meddling. Our new legislation will make sure ministers always put patients first.’


Readers' comments (46)

  • Promising change then simply passing the responsibility for devising how to do it let alone provide these ideas seems a very common theme within government.

    Put some 'meat on the bare bones' and decide how this can be done. Through enforced contract changes the responsibility is simply being passed on and we are left trying to solve an impossible riddle of how to provide these over the top ideas.

    The NHS needs reform and I feel changing work patterns may have some place in that but political meddling is making things worse.

    Moving funding for 111 and out of hours to the gp practices may be a good start for negotiations. Once appropriate financing is negotiated then practices and CCGs can assess demand and start to plan for its provision.

    I am sure, that much like other government initiatives, we will find out the details on the day we are expected to deliver it.

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  • So I will be spending 12hours a day 7 days a week 'feeding' the needs of more worried well but at the same spending more time and effort looking after the frail and needy. Its an equation that I just cant work out.

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  • as always he is short on details

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  • The patients we spend most time with are the elderly (who don't like to come to out after dark) the chronically sick (who are rarely his beloved 'hardworking family' types, and mums with young children. Most GPs have arranged their working weeks to be around to care for these patients. Many (myself included) also work regular weekend shifts and evening surgeries. Forcing us to provide even better continuity during the day and more out of hours access will be impossible.

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  • "the chronically sick (who are rarely his beloved 'hardworking family' types,"

    Nice stereotype you've got going on there Jonathan. Would you like to explain why people with chronic illnesses are in some way not family types or not hardworking?

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  • Stereotypes are useful sometimes. Obviously there's no reason why someone with a serious chronic illness shouldn't have a family.
    I am concerned by the govt's repeated use of the phrase 'hardworking families' which I think excludes the retired, isolated, unemployed, bereaved, etc. who make up a large part of my work.
    Perhaps you should use your name and stand by your comments.

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  • Bob Hodges

    What Jonathon is saying Mr Anonymous Troll, is that anyone who can (with a straight face) use the phrase 'Hardworking Families' without inverted commas is a 'fascist Wanker'.

    Politicians aka The Tories are playing divide and rule, directing people's anger away from their own failing towards a mythical bogey man. In this case, you are being invited to scapegoat the chronically sick and anyone in reciept of state assistance, if you accept the dichotomy presented as real and identify yourself as 'hard working'.

    Democracy is this form is just tryanny by majority.

    Today's 'Non-hardworking families' are yesterdays 'immigrants', 'gypsies', 'Jews' or 'Blacks/Irish'.

    It's on Page 1 of 'Fascism for Dummies' if you want to find out more.

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  • Beware of trolls. .

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  • Neither Hunt's nor Tomlinson's stereotypes are helpful.

    Chronically ill people were all born into families (just like healthy people) and may have acquired families before or after they got sick.

    Many people on DLA are people in work.

    Many people who may be unable to work in full or part-time employment may be working hard in other ways (for example doing domestic work to look after their families, or voluntary work where there is less pressure and more flexibility).

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  • Vinci Ho

    Well done , agent Hunt and Darth Vader
    They have painted a picture that all these vulnerable patients had been suffering because GPs were too lazy to care about them because of the GP contract from 2005.So all GPs will now work 7 days a week , 12 hours a day.
    Clare, would you consider that as an insult and a slap on the face on our profession ? Thank you for all your hard work......

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