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GPC negotiator threatens to report health minister to the GMC

Exclusive A GPC negotiator has written to health minister Dr Dan Poulter threatening to report him to the GMC over his recent remarks regarding GP out-of-hours care.

Dr Peter Holden, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, has given Dr Poulter until today to withdraw comments he made to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in which he claimed that GP out-of-hours care had been ‘scrapped’ and said people turn up at A&E at times when they don’t have access to their GP.

Dr Holden told Pulse that he has asked Dr Poulter to explain why he should not refer the health minister to the GMC for ‘reducing [doctors’] standing with the public, and reducing the public confidence in the profession’.

Dr Poulter told the BBC: ‘There isn’t the community-based care that there used to be, thanks to the previous Government scrapping the GP out-of-hours system and that has put a lot of pressure on the system.

‘It means that we are in a much more difficult place to deal with and actually better help people who could be better looked after at home in their community, and indeed divert less serious cases, for example someone with a sore throat, who would normally turn up to their GP, they are now sort of being forced to turn up at A&E because they haven’t got a GP to see out of hours.’

However, Dr Holden claimed that these remarks were damaging to the profession and could be misleading to patients, and said he intended to report Dr Poulter to the GMC unless a clarification was forthcoming.

He wrote: ‘None of them would believe mitigating circumstances such as poor briefing, so could you explain to me within 48 hours why I should not make the reference?’

He later told Pulse: ‘In the post-Francis era of openness, transparency and candour, my own registration is on the line if I don’t report it.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Dr Dan Poulter is both a health minister and a doctor. In the interview he praised the NHS for doing “wonderfully well” even during difficult times.’

‘He was clearly not blaming GPs themselves for a lack of out-of-hours services, but referring to the GP contract which ties GPs to working practices that could be much better suited to modern demands - especially an aging population with more complex needs.’