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Hunt promises end to general practice ‘neglect’ and a reformed contract in 2016



Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged to end the ‘neglect’ of general practice and launch a ‘reformed’ GP contract in 2016.

Mr Hunt said that he wanted to see more investment in general practice this year ’with more doctors and a reformed contract’.

The next GP contract remains under negotiation, although Pulse revealed last year that the Government was looking to include a seven-day access DES and remove QOF. An alternative GP contract will be made available to some practices from later this year.

Meanwhile, the GPC is preparing for an emergency LMC conference later this month to form policy on how to bring general practice back from the brink of collapse, with LMCs considering radical motions including industrial action.

But in his New Year video message, Mr Hunt said GP contract reform in 2016 would ’allow doctors more time with their most vulnerable patients’.

He added: ’General practice is the jewel in the crown of the NHS, but it’s one we’ve neglected for too long. 2016 will be the year that we make steps towards hiring more GPs, in order to fill our ambition of 5,000 more doctors working in general practice.’

‘We’ll be allocating £750 million to improve primary care premises and reforming the GP contract to allow doctors more time with their most vulnerable patients.’

The pledge to boost GP numbers comes as Health Education England said before Christmas that it was hopeful of achieving a ‘worst-case scenario’ for GP recruitment by 2020 of 5,381 more doctors – a 14.6% increase.

Its 2016/17 plan said: ‘HEE’s forecasts of future supply show that we are training more people to enter the system than those leaving the system in every profession…even in our “worst case” forecast scenario available supply increases by nearly 25,000 FTE. This scenario does act to highlight the importance of the system acting to improve staff retention alongside efforts to improve course attrition and employment.’

The statements come despite scores of training places remaining unfilled across the country for the past two years, with the north east of England particularly badly hit.

Before the election, the Conservative Party promised 5,000 extra GPs by 2020, but HEE has since revealed this target will now include GPs in training and non-GP specialist doctors working in general practice.