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GPs underfunded as ‘penance’ for signing 2004 contract, says Hunt

The health secretary has said the 2004 GMS contract was to blame for the subsequent lack of investment in general practice. 

He said: ‘Labour signed a disastrous contract in 2003 and since then, in penance really, the NHS has not really wanted to put extra money into general practice and it been has starved of resources progressively, with increases in hospital doctors but not increases in primary care doctors.’

At the same event the health secretary said that transforming GP services to make them do more work with people in residential care would make a ‘massive’ difference to the efficiency of the NHS.

Speaking at a Conservative Party Conference 2015 session, hosted by The Times newspaper, Jeremy Hunt said it was ’absolutely critical to bring social care and the NHS together, and that GPs’ sharing records and transforming care of residential home patients was crucial. 

The latest comments follow Mr Hunt’s assertion that GPs under the new contract announced by the Prime Minister yesterday would still have to record QOF work, but would not receive funding for it.

Answering a question on the lack of social care services available for patients to be discharged to, Mr Hunt said: ‘What we can’t do is say “what happens in the social care system has no relation to what happens in the NHS”. We basically have to bring them together in this Parliament that’s an absolutely critical question, and that’s very, very challenging for local authorities whose budget is not protected.’

‘One of the simple things we can do – that would make a massive difference – is to share health records across the health and social care system. Another thing that would make a massive difference is to transform GP services so they’re doing more to help people in residential care homes.’

Mr Hunt did not elaborate on these comments, but it follows Care England – the largest representative for the care home industry – saying that care homes will stop paying GP practices retainer fees to provide extra care to nursing home residents, in a long-running battle over locally agreed enhanced services