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I now recognise the value GP partners bring, says Streeting

I now recognise the value GP partners bring, says Streeting

The shadow health secretary has said that he now recognises the ‘value GP partners provide’, after spending time in general practice. 

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party’s annual conference today, Wes Streeting said GP partners are ‘deeply committed’ to their patients, take on population health management and foster a connection with the community that has ‘longevity’. 

In response to a question from Pulse, Mr Streeting also said he has not reached a ‘firm conclusion’ on the future of the GP partnership model but current GP partners have ‘no reason to worry’. 

At the start of this year, Mr Streeting had said Labour wanted to ‘tear up’ the ‘murky, opaque’ GP contract, while considering abolishing the GP partnership model in favour of a salaried service.

But he later said he remained ‘open minded’ about the future of the GP partnership model, seemingly rowing back on those comments earlier in the year. 

Today, Mr Streeting said: ‘One of the things I think was genuinely misinterpreted earlier this year was at no point did I say that we would nationalise GPs or we would come in and just sort of axe existing GP partners. 

‘What we were minded to do is to sort of phase it out over time. I’m still not sure whether or not the GP partnership can survive in the longer term. But I haven’t reached a sort of firm conclusion that says that it shouldn’t.’

He also said he was thinking ‘carefully’ about how to avoid throwing ‘the baby out with the bathwater’. 

Mr Streeting told conference attendees that he had spent ‘a lot of time’ over the past year with both salaried GPs and GP partners.

He said he had heard that ‘paradoxically’ what GP partners are so proud of is also ‘so unattractive to new generations of people coming into general practice’. 

‘One of the things that I have recognised in the time that I have spent in general practice is how much added value GP partners provide, how deeply committed they are to their patients and to their lists and to their practices,’ Mr Streeting added. 

He said he worried that GP partners’ ‘link to the community’ might be lost if the GP partnership model is abolished. 

The shadow health secretary also sought to reassure current GP partners that a Labour Government would not ‘come in and tear up their contract or say that we are not having partnerships any longer’.

‘I want to work with the best of general practice to reform the worst challenges in general practice, and I hope that’s reassuring to GP partners, and also shows that when I said we’d listen and consult and we’re open-minded, that was genuine,’ Mr Streeting added. 

Responding to a question on the use of pharmacies, the shadow health secretary also told attendees that GPs face heavy criticism in the media.

‘I want to see a greater role for community pharmacy – I think it’d be great for patients, great for our high streets, and great for poor old GPs, who despite providing a million more appointments now than they did before the pandemic, are still picking up the newspapers and being criticised quite heavily because they can’t meet the demand,’ he said.

In May, party leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the GP partnership model is ‘coming to an end of its life’, and in response GP leaders at the BMA wrote to the Labour Party in a bid to change its position. 

Yesterday at the party’s conference, Mr Streeting revealed he has ‘made it very clear’ to hospitals that any funding that becomes ‘available’ under a Labour Government would go to primary care and other non-acute sectors.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 10 October, 2023 3:14 pm

I do like someone who is willing to demonstrate that they are able to learn from experience and adjust their approach to fit a new understanding as they learn.
Maybe he will make a better PM-candidate than the rich lawyer who leans to the right?

The Locum 10 October, 2023 3:56 pm

They all swing with the prevailing wind and would say anything for a vote

Mr Marvellous 10 October, 2023 3:59 pm

If he didn’t understand the primary care landscape, why was he so keen to comment?

I don’t think we should take too much comfort in this. It’s going to be like asking a toddler to rebuild the engine of a Ferrari.

Cameron Wilson 10 October, 2023 4:12 pm

As always the proof will be in the pudding! One thing that you can be certain off, Wes, you need us infinitely more than we need you!
Debatable whether you will have enough resources left to implement any strategy however well intentioned. Anyway, at least this was a more sensible utterance than what proceeded!

Daryl Mullen 10 October, 2023 4:31 pm

Let’s face it. It’s not what the minister thinks but what their 30yr old Oxbridge white male special advisor thinks

fareed bhatti 10 October, 2023 4:58 pm

Well said MM and DM.
Suddenly he has seen the light… existing partners have nothing to worry….
Of course-where have I heard this crap before!
The moment WS’s backside hits the ministerial chair all these valuable lessons with be forgotten and he’ll start shovelling money into sec care to reduce the operating lists. Keir already wants to fill the consultant’s boots with gold to make them work overtime. At this rate, they won’t even need to do private practice.

Dave Haddock 10 October, 2023 5:22 pm

Another week, another opinion.
A man inspired by Marx, Groucho Marx.
“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”.

Bonglim Bong 10 October, 2023 5:28 pm

The exact sequence of events will be as follows:
– Salaried service set up through trusts, with poorly performing practices allowed to transfer to the Trust (by choice)
– Each year in negotiations the GMS deal gets eroded, bit by bit, continuously. Sometimes through funding, sometimes through placing funding through services which cannot be run by individual practices, or by asking practices to run services in a way which is unviable for practice size units.
– Each time there is a complaint about erosion of the GMS deal, practices are just reminded that if they don’t like it they are welcome to hand over their contracts to the Trust.

Trusts continue to provide a crap service, because they have no idea what they are doing – and everyone gets worse care.

Anthony Everington 10 October, 2023 5:42 pm

Politicians who have looked in detail at primary care and are converted to its benefits – this is good news as is the fact that Wes’s adviser is a GP in the East End of London.

Vikas Kaura 10 October, 2023 5:57 pm

Just remember primary care is not just GPs. Money coming into primary care at present arrives without support and GPs ‘are best placed’ to provide it.
All unrecognised, all unfunded.
Be wary of more primary care services in the community dumping more work onto practices. I can only see practice workload increase faster than it is resourced.
Just saying…

Alexis Manning 10 October, 2023 6:09 pm

Reminiscent of Raab not realising that Dover was an important port during Brexit arrangements.

Anthony Gould 10 October, 2023 6:11 pm

Wes needs to decide whether he wishes to reward partners properly so they earn significantly more than salaried doctors (who are working to a BMA contract with all its boundaries) otherwise by default or intent GP partners will disappear steadily.
The result will be a very marked increase in costs to provide the same level of service
Remember the OOH change and the extra costs to the NHS ?

Richard Greenway 10 October, 2023 7:11 pm

AE -with you?? Well done if you have won him round!

David Banner 10 October, 2023 8:14 pm

Streeting -“Abolish Partnerships!”
Accountant -“errrr, Wes, this’ll cost squillions”
Streeting -“Oops! Save Partnerships!”

Janine O'Kane 10 October, 2023 9:44 pm

Arrogance. No clue.

Liam Topham 11 October, 2023 10:58 am

“what GP’s are proud of is paradoxically so unattractive to new generations of people coming into general practice”
in other words all the hassle, responsibility, commitment, background stress, of partnership
I think I agree with that, but would be interested to hear what the new generations think !

Adam Crowther 11 October, 2023 8:27 pm

Sincere U turn 🤔

Merlin Wyltt 11 October, 2023 9:09 pm

He can get the pharmacists to sort it all out!

“I can well understand why there are GPs who look with anxiety at pharmacies doing more vaccination or more prescribing, but that’s because they’re thinking about their own income”

“Money for old rope”

That will teach those lazy and greedy GPs!
What an inspirational leader. I can’t wait for him to take over. Finally we have a health minister who has the gumption to kill off General Practice and put us all out of our misery. Go Wes!!

Finola ONeill 12 October, 2023 1:29 pm

‘ are still picking up the newspapers and being criticised quite heavily because they can’t meet the demand,’
Twat; he specifically briefed the Tory press against us.
If he’s decided to stop briefing against us I’m glad. But I’m not grateful. Twat.

A Non 12 October, 2023 4:27 pm

This guy will screw up on an epic scale. Clueless, inconsistent, vain and arrogant. Not what anybody hoped for but 100% clear on view to all. We have had prior warning. He isn’t going to suddenly start getting it right. Things are bad now but will get much worse. If you choose to stay, (like those hopeful residents of Pompeii) you will only have yourself to blame.

M M 14 October, 2023 9:32 am

30 year old white male giving him advice…

It’s such a weird and unnecessary comment.

Male and white? Who cares? Bordering or sexist and racist to be honest.

You can be a Consultant at 30 or a fully qualified GP with 4 years experience.

Burned Out 16 October, 2023 10:24 am

The only value politicians recognise in General Practice is it being an easy target for every failure of the NHS.

Past Caring 22 October, 2023 8:15 pm

Too late to stop me leaving.