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GPs should move away from ‘mentality’ of clocking off at 7pm, says Hunt

The health secretary has called for a change in the mentality of GPs, and a move away from ‘gatekeepers’ who think it’s not their problem to deal with patients after ‘the surgery closes at 7 o’clock’.

After launching his ‘new deal’ for general practice in London today, in an off-camera Q&A, Jeremy Hunt called for GPs to take ‘responsibility for the care of their patients’.

He said that there needed to be a change in the mentality that GPs think that it is ‘not my problem any more’ when they finish surgery at 7pm.  

Relating a personal story from his father’s end-of-life care, he told of an almost ‘comical situation’ where he had been the person coordinating care between district and Macmillan nurses, and saw this as a key area for integration with general practice.

Mr Hunt continued: ‘I think we need to move away from the idea of GPs as gatekeepers or as signposts. I want GPs to take responsibility for the care of their patients, to be accountable for the care of their patients.

‘To say, actually “I am the person who will make sure you get the care you need”, not just “I am the person who’s going to give you help and advice” – important though it is.’

He said that he ‘recognised this is something you can’t do on your own’, adding: ‘We need to look at breaking down those barriers and [inaudible] between different parts of out-of-hospital care.

However, Mr Hunt added: ‘It is also about a change in mentality by the GPs, so they actually don’t think when the surgery closes at seven o’clock in the evening “it’s not my problem anymore”.’