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Give everyone their own GP to mitigate against ‘toughest’ winter crisis ever, says Hunt

jeremy hunt

The new Prime Minister needs to ditch ‘Stalinist’ central targets, exempt doctors from pension rules and give every patient their own GP, to avoid a looming winter crisis, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The leader of the House of Commons health and social care committee, and former Prime Minister hopeful, took to Twitter yesterday to set out his suggestions for a six-point list of emergency actions.

The former longest-serving health secretary said this comes as ‘the NHS has been absent from this leadership campaign’ but that, ‘after energy bills’, the ‘biggest issue facing the new Prime Minister will be a looming winter crisis’.

‘Judging by the state of ambulance and A&E services over summer, this winter will be the toughest ever,’ Mr Hunt said.

‘Staff shortages and morale have never been worse. If the NHS continues this spiral of decline with ambulances, A&Es & GP surgeries all in serious crisis, we’ll see avoidable deaths mount up this winter.’

Amid his proposed solutions, Mr Hunt said the NHS should ‘move back to the system where everyone has their own GP rather than just being attached to a surgery’.

Referring to Norwegian research from last year, he said: ‘A study showed a 25% cut in mortality and 30% drop in hospital visits for people who saw the same GP.’

But he pointed out that ‘keeping our promise to recruit 6,000 more GPs will help achieve this’.

Previous health secretary Sajid Javid had already admitted that the Government is ‘not on track’ to deliver on the manifesto promise, and Mr Hunt told Pulse in April he holds himself responsible for failing to deliver on his own pledge to boost GP numbers while he was in the job.

Mr Hunt also said the country’s new leaders should ‘ditch the Stalinist centralism that has given the NHS more targets than any healthcare system in the world’, and ‘replace national targets with easily accessible data that allows everyone to compare performance’.

‘CQC Ofsted-style ratings work well,’ he added.

Earlier this year, Mr Hunt told the Pulse Live conference that he thinks that the NHS ‘should look at scrapping QOF’, to allow more ‘freedom and flexibility’ over how money is spent in general practice. However

Other proposed actions included ‘a mass overseas recruitment drive for doctors and nurses as a temporary, short-term lever’; an ‘immediate exemption’ for doctors from public sector pension rules ‘which are currently forcing them to retire in their fifties in alarming numbers’; and making ‘flexible working automatic across the NHS so we don’t drive staff with young families to become locums’.

It is a ‘national scandal’ that GPs are having to work less or leave their jobs altogether due to NHS pension rules, a report from the Commons health committee concluded last month.

Former health secretaries Mr Hunt and Mr Javid were both knocked out of the race to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister last month, after failing to get sufficient backing from fellow Conservative MPs.

NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard rebuffed Mr Hunt’s suggestions for individual patients list whilst giving evidence to the health committee in June. She suggested improving continuity of care does ‘not require contractual change’.

Jeremy Hunt’s workforce solutions in full

  1. ‘A mass overseas recruitment drive for doctors & nurses as a temporary, short-term lever – allowing [doctors] from countries with good medical education systems like Canada and Germany to be green listed so they don’t have to resit pointless additional exams’;
  2. ‘Grant an immediate exemption for doctors to public sector pension rules which are currently forcing them to retire in their fifties in alarming numbers.’
  3. ‘Make flexible working automatic across the NHS so we don’t drive staff with young families to become locums or agency nurses, which is often the only way they can juggle work and home life.’
  4. ‘Ditch the Stalinist centralism that has given the NHS more targets than any healthcare system in the world: replace national targets with easily accessible data that allows everyone to compare performance (CQC Ofsted style ratings work well).’
  5. ‘Move back to the system where everyone has their own GP rather than just being attached to a surgery. A study showed a 25% cut in mortality & 30% drop in hospital visits for people who saw the same GP (keeping our promise to recruit 6000 more GPs will help achieve this).’
  6. ‘Hospitals are full of people who can’t be discharged due to social care issues, mainly staff shortages. Local authorities need help now to boost pay rates for care workers, as they’re currently losing them in droves to the retail and hospitality sectors.’

Source: Jeremy Hunt/Twitter

READERS' COMMENTS [17]

David Church 5 August, 2022 1:30 pm

Aha, so the man who invented the unachievable target for creating new GPS has finally announced the ultimate unachievable goal – he says he can create 60 million GPs in 2 months, so we can all have our own GP by the time winter arrives in october – although the way government is taking u, we will be well into a ‘winter of discontent’ with empty larders and rampant ‘winter virus’ epidemics, by the end of September.
Absolutely Sectionable if you ask me!

SUBHASH BHATT 5 August, 2022 1:35 pm

Pointless exercise. Very few single handed gps left. Nominating a gp serve no purpose . You take appointment with who so ever is available.

Turn out The Lights 5 August, 2022 1:53 pm

Says the man who did more to destroy GP land and anyone in the last three decades.He served us a penance remember.What go around come around.

David jenkins 5 August, 2022 1:57 pm

copy of letter i recently sent to the torygraph – which, obviously, they did not publish:

Sir,
Your article on the worsening shortage of both hospital doctors and GPs cannot be allowed to pass without comment. A major factor in both groups electing to reduce their working hours is the punitive way they are likely to be taxed on their pensions if they pay too much into their pension pots.
It has been suggested many times that the government could easily rectify this anomaly, as they have already done in the case of the judiciary. However, a letter from an unnamed treasury source dated 4/7/2022, reference TO2022/10940, says in response to this, that “The Government is not minded to replicate this scheme at present”.
They cannot, therefore, pretend to be surprised when hospital doctors and GPs alike are “not minded” to work longer hours, which would cause them to fall foul of the rules the government themselves have put in place !

But, as Boris Johnson himself said “Thems the breaks”

don’t tell me that hunt is actually listening ?!!

Darren Cornish 5 August, 2022 1:58 pm

So how does it work if you are the only GP for 7800 patients 50% of the time? Good gracious. What a mess we are in. Thank goodness most patients are fantastic and supportive.

Malcolm Kendrick 5 August, 2022 2:27 pm

I think that continuity of care is a good idea – as far as is possible. It saves consultation time, often patients feel they need to trust you, before telling you what they are really bothered/worried about and suchlike. Consultations with people you know, and who trust you, are usally more enjoyable [leaving heartsinks to one side]. Unfortunately, currently, it just is not possible. Succesive Govts, and certain Royal Colleges, have ripped the guts out of general practice. it will take many years, if ever, to put it back together again. I supsect never.

Kevlar Cardie 5 August, 2022 3:03 pm

Coming up after the break…

Herod Agrippa gives his amusing tips on childcare and we hear from Charles Manson about how he gets a party REALLY started …

Stephen Savory 5 August, 2022 4:24 pm

It takes 10 years to train a GP / 6000 GPs. Long if you need to build 40-60 new medical schools. Guess that’s the 2033 Winter Crisis averted then.

Patrufini Duffy 5 August, 2022 4:59 pm

Babylon, Livi and Push Doctor are your GPs now. Continuity that.

SUBHASH BHATT 5 August, 2022 6:32 pm

What benefit did named gp bring?? Ask patients how that helped ?

Scottish GP 5 August, 2022 10:36 pm

Finished today, not a moment too soon.

Dylan Summers 6 August, 2022 9:19 am

Our practice, like many others, has named a GP for each of our elderly patients. But when there is no spare capacity in the appointment system, appointments have to be booked with whoever is available. So sadly the “named GP” is rarely the GP who deals with the patient.

By the way, my inner grammar pedant raises an eyebrow at the headline. “Mitigate against”?
https://jeremybutterfield.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/mitigate-vs-militate-is-mitigate-against-correct/

Carpe Vinum 8 August, 2022 2:52 pm

How exactly do you have a named GP when the current trend of working is increasingly part time? Sorry madam, you’re only allowed to be ill on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning…

Truth Finder 8 August, 2022 3:30 pm

He did nothing as a health secretary and now this dumb suggestion without any resources.

Long Gone 9 August, 2022 8:12 am

Even leaving aside the impracticality of mandating named GPs when there are manifestly insufficient to fulfil this, his list is incomplete.
Our predicament has arisen from a toxic combination of multiple factors. Ask any early-retiring GP and they will give you their version of the following list – GMC, CQC, A&R, NHSE, complaints & litigation, rising workload due to dealing with multiple complex chronic conditions, media vilification, pensions, politicians’ lack of understanding of the NHS, etc
So alighting upon one single factor and trying to mandate it is like throwing a concrete life belt to a drowning profession.

Richard Greenway 10 August, 2022 3:08 pm

Wasn’t Jeremy Hunt in the driving seat when pooled list and practice based contracts were mandated? And all those single handed personal GPs were shut down or merged? Bit late for a U turn methinks.
Yes -we need to recruit, but much more importantly we need to retain GPs. Not rocket science. Plenty of people wanting to be partners at PWC fewer wanting to be GP partners.

Hot Felon 10 August, 2022 3:42 pm

Silly Hunt