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Jeremy Hunt rejects Tory proposal to limit GP appointments

The health secretary has vowed to ‘never’ to limit the number of appointments patients can make with their GP, after Conservative Party members were asked their opinion on the controversial idea to make savings.

A policy discussion document distributed by the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) had asked party members to comment on a number of controversial statements regarding GP care, including whether there could be an annual cap on the number of times patients can see their GP in a year.

But commenting yesterday via his official Twitter account, Jeremy Hunt said: ‘It IS NOT and WAS NEVER going to be Conservative policy to limit GP appointments.’

The comment also referred to an online public petition by campaign group 38Degrees, which received 180,000 signatures in just 48 hours after a number of national newspapers had picked up the story and the GPC had branded the suggestion as ‘absurd’.

Also commenting on Twitter, RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said: ‘Good that @Jeremy_Hunt says will be no rationing of access to general practice care.’

But Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham who sits on the GPC and was a founding member of the Health Action Party against NHS reforms, said: ‘I think this story is a “non event” and diversion from real threats. Was never going to happen.’

38Degrees chief executive David Babbs commented: ‘It looks like we may have nipped it in the bud. By working together in big enough numbers, we’ve forced a leading politician to change his tune in just 48 hours.’

As well as limiting GP appointments, the CPF had asked party members for their thoughts on penalties for DNAs and GPs providing appointments out of hours.

Click here to read the Conservative Policy Forum discussion brief