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Hancock fails to commit to reducing non-urgent GP work after Pulse questioning


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The health secretary would not commit to reducing GPs’ non-urgent work after being asked by Pulse in the Downing Street press conference to set out how he will make time for GPs to carry out Covid vaccinations.

Pulse editor Jaimie Kaffash asked Matt Hancock how the Government would ensure that GPs could free up time to carry out the Covid vaccination programme at a time when GP numbers are reducing, the number of consultations are increasing and they are carrying out the largest flu vaccination ever.

However, Mr Hancock declined to answer this point, instead focusing on thanking GPs for the work they are doing and the work they will do throughout the winter.

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, also in attendance, said he understood the workload pressures GPs were under, but added it was ‘incumbent on every one of us to put in extraordinary efforts’ to make the vaccination programme work.

The Pulse editor asked: ‘During the election, you acknowledged we needed 6,000 new GPs. Since then, the number of full time equivalent, fully trained GPs has decreased, GPs are doing more consultations than ever, and they are carrying out the biggest flu vaccination programme ever.

‘So can you reassure patients and GPs that you will reduce their non-urgent workload, to free up time for them to carry out the Covid vaccination programme, while ensuring that patients can continue to access the urgent care that they need?’

In response, Mr Hancock replied: ‘This is an incredibly important question.

‘What I’d say to every GP is how grateful I am for the work that you’re doing and your whole practice, everybody in primary care. Both on the flu vaccine right now, which is being rolled out in record numbers, and we’ve had a record uptake… and of course, on the normal pressures of primary care.

‘I’m really glad that a much bigger proportion of appointments in primary care are now either over the phone or by the video, because that makes life easier for GPs and for patients, and there’s been a really positive response to that. But that doesn’t, of course, lift the whole burden.’

He added that we have ‘hopefully a Covid vaccination programme ready to go’ from 1 December, but it wasn’t his ‘central expectation’ that it would start then.

Mr Hancock said: ‘The bulk of the roll-out is likely to be in the new year, if one of the two early vaccines comes through – and that’s the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine. And we must be ready, and I want to thank in advance GPs for all the work that I know they’re doing now, and that they’ll be more of this winter to keep people safe.’

Professor Van-Tam then described the Covid vaccination programme as ‘the biggest and most important thing’ the NHS has done ‘for a very long while’, with primary care at ‘front and centre stage’ of all immunisations programmes.

He added: ‘It will be ‘incumbent on every one of us to put in extraordinary efforts to make this programme move as fast as we can, consistent with the available supplies, and with the highest uptake we can possible manage.

‘This is a big opportunity to change the way the pandemic will roll out over 2021. It isn’t going to produce an overnight result, it isn’t going to affect the second wave that we’re now in, but it could very dramatically change what the spring and summer start to look like.’

The deputy chief medical officer also encouraged the public to come forward for the vaccine.

Earlier in the briefing, Mr Hancock spoke about the recent news about both testing capacity and vaccine development. He welcomed today’s findings from the US, that Moderna’s candidate has 94.5% effectiveness.

READERS' COMMENTS [11]

Jane Ancliff 16 November, 2020 6:48 pm

Totally failed to answer the question- typical politician – spouted what we already knew rather than addressing a difficult issue!

John Clements 16 November, 2020 6:49 pm

Thanks Jamie for asking that question which it seems no one else has managed yet. I dont think the health secretary should ever be able to dodge this sort of question. And just thanking us, and telling us it’s our duty is not good enough considering how much they have wasted on test and trace. We need funding. We need workforce. We need our work load reduced or this will just be impossible. Using the media against us in this way, with the expectation of the deal has already been agreed, and will make us look greedy if we ask for help. Is absolutely disgusting. We cannot let them get away with this behaviour

Patrufini Duffy 16 November, 2020 7:12 pm

Basically he’s going to shaft you through the PCN-DES and smash you through NHS 111 and contractual changes. Everyone is closed or hiding, and you must bend over, or you’ll be publicly slated, knowingly.

Patrufini Duffy 16 November, 2020 7:42 pm

A must watch : Piers Morgan today vs. HANCOCK like Jaimie. He refuses free carparks, like he refuses to reduce your work. Because you don’t matter to him, and never have. Those dead have no voice, and those leaders in NHSE should be ashamed of their mediocrity and lack of compassion:

https://youtu.be/uS4KruI6Nr8

David jenkins 17 November, 2020 1:01 am

three choices for mr handcock:

1 – more staff to manage this extra work

2 – stop doing rubbish tasks so we can do this extra work (think appraisal, revalidation, cqc, qof etc etc etc).

3 – carry on doing rubbish tasks and don’t do this extra work

i told an old farmer in his 80s earlier on this year “you need to slow down a bit, you’ve got too many irons in the fire”

his reply “that’s true – but which iron do i take out ?”

the same farmer said to me a few years ago “a bank will lend you money any time – but they’ll ask for it back when it starts raining”

one of the wisest people i know !

sally Gayer 17 November, 2020 8:06 am

His ‘remote consultations’ DO NOT make things easier for GPs. What a fool he is. The only difference is that you cannot examine a patient It makes the consultation riskier for both the patient and GP in every way apart from catching covid.

Not on your nelly 17 November, 2020 9:00 am

Why should he care what we think? History has shown that they can produce a steaming turd of a contact or enhanced service and GPs will fall over themselves to sign up. This corona virus vaccine ES will be a case in point. Watch there be 99% coverage when it is reported this time tomorrow. Why do we do it to ourselves?!

Tim Wright 17 November, 2020 9:04 am

Alas the GPC walked straight into this trap.

John Glasspool 17 November, 2020 1:14 pm

Never, ever, trust a tory.

David jenkins 17 November, 2020 3:29 pm

John Glasspool
Never, ever, trust a tory.

never, ever trust any politician.

Q: How do you tell when a politician is lying ?
A: His (her) mouth moves.

Victoria Cleak 18 November, 2020 10:14 am

It does grate though, when you hear that 20 million pounds goes to one man for phoning up his mate in China to get boxes of plastic PPE. He makes jewellery for a living. Perhaps all GP’s ought to put their intelligence and ‘get it done’ attitude into something other than being a GP in its current format?