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Labour ‘won’t entertain requests for blank cheques’, Streeting tells RCGP

Labour ‘won’t entertain requests for blank cheques’, Streeting tells RCGP

Labour has criticised the RCGP’s plan to save general practice, saying the proposed solutions are ‘completely counter’ to what both GPs and patients need. 

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the college that their plan for general practice will cost ‘billions’, but said his party ‘won’t entertain requests for blank cheques’, and the ‘era of simply pouring more money into a broken system is over’.

In response, on Friday morning, RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said Mr Streeting’s response was ‘surprisingly vehement’, and said the college’s plans had been supported elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Professor Hawthorne called for a patient safety alert system in general practice, modelled on the OPEL framework, with practices supported by overflow hubs and additional locums. 

This formed the top demand in the RCGP’s new ‘general election manifesto’, published at the start of its annual conference taking place this week in Glasgow. 

However, writing in The Times today, Mr Streeting said the RCGP is ‘wrong’, rejecting in particular what he called ‘the power to turn away more patients and deny them health checks’.

He suggested that the plan would make it more difficult for patients to see their GP, which would expedite the ‘rise of a two-tier healthcare service’ and make the NHS a ‘poor service for poor people’.

Mr Streeting said: ‘This is a plan for the managed decline of general practice, not a serious plan to get GPs back on their feet.’

Other steps outlined in the RCGP’s manifesto included shifting NHS funding from hospitals towards general practice, investing £2bn in GP infrastructure, and introducing a nationally funding retention programme for GPs.

In response, Labour said the college was asking for ‘billions’ more in funding without setting out how the money should be spent. 

The shadow health secretary said: ‘All NHS organisations need to understand that this way of working won’t wash with a Labour government. 

‘The era of simply pouring more money into a broken system is over. Rishi Sunak may think that announcing pots of funding with no strings attached is good politics, but it is bad policy that leaves taxpayers paying more and getting less. I won’t entertain requests for blank cheques.’

Mr Streeting instead focussed on Labour’s ‘reform agenda’ and said there are ‘innovative practices’ across the country who are making strides that the party would seek to make the ‘norm’.

He also criticised Professor Hawthorne’s claim that no political party has yet put forward a credible plan to save general practice.

‘These sorts of blanket attacks on politics only feeds cynicism and blocks progress. They may wish to remember that the last Labour government delivered the shortest waiting lists and highest patient satisfaction in history, as well as GP appointments when people needed them,’ Mr Streeting added. 

At the RCGP conference this morning, Professor Hawthorne said: ‘It’s good that our manifesto has had such a quick impact. Sometimes having a reaction is better than having no reaction at all.

‘I think it was a surprisingly vehement response, surprising actually. I spoke to many of you [RCGP delegates] yesterday after my speech and it’s clear many if not all of you are very much in agreement with me, so if I’m wrong, then you are all wrong too.

‘This is a manifesto that has been very carefully scripted, very carefully thought through. So I stand by it, really, I can’t not. This is our manifesto.’ 

RCGP General Election Manifesto

  1. Protect patient safety by introducing a national alert system to flag unsafe levels of workload and allow practices to access additional support
  2. Ensure patients get the care they need, closer to home, by increasing the share of NHS funding for general practice
  3. Provide more support to patients in deprived communities
  4. Ensure every patient who needs to see a GP can do so quickly and safely by taking action to grow the GP workforce
    • A new nationally funded ‘one-stop-shop’ retention programme
    • Investment in training capacity in general practice
  5. Give every patient access to a modern fit for purpose general practice building, by investing at least £2 billion in infrastructure
  6. Free up GPs to spend time to spend with patients
  7. Guarantee permanent residence for international medical graduates qualifying as GPs to make sure they can work in the NHS

Source: RCGP

Over the summer, the shadow health secretary announced his plan to give GP practices financial incentives to let patients see the same doctor every time in order to boost continuity of care. 

On funding, Mr Streeting has indicated that general practice may receive a larger share of NHS funding under a Labour Government, saying at the party’s recent annual conference that he has made it clear to hospitals that any ‘available’ funding would go to primary care and other non-acute sectors.

He also said at a conference fringe event that he now recognises the ‘value GP partners provide’ after spending time in general practice, but he has not yet reached a ‘firm conclusion’ on the future of the partnership model.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Mr Marvellous 20 October, 2023 12:41 pm

Which of the manifesto items 1-7 does Wes disagree with?

Just a GP 20 October, 2023 12:57 pm

True to form for “Which way the wind blows Wes”

What a moron.

He’s even invented an era to suit his own delusion:
“The era of simply pouring more money into a broken system is over. Rishi Sunak may think that announcing pots of funding with no strings attached is good politics,”

Somebody please tell him its been the era of getting blood from a stone in funding real terms pay cuts, funds arriving late and with nothing but strings attached .

Sad that this is what we have as a hope for improvement over the shambolic incumbents.

Just a GP 20 October, 2023 1:05 pm

It gets better, after ridiculing actually paying for the service the public want, he then boasts taking credit for the benefits achieved by a former government hosing money in:

“They may wish to remember that the last Labour government delivered the shortest waiting lists and highest patient satisfaction in history, as well as GP appointments when people needed them,’ ”

Plain to see he’ll dance to Rupert Murdoch’s tune like the rest.

Fedup GP 20 October, 2023 1:32 pm

GP’s ‘won’t entertain requests for unfunded work’, GP’s (should) tell Wes.

Centreground Centreground 20 October, 2023 1:34 pm

Wes Streeting has failed before he’s even started.
Difficult to comment as this is childlike politics from a fantasist.

Cameron Wilson 20 October, 2023 2:12 pm

Enlighten us, Wes, what innovative Practices are you referring to. Can’t wait to see where all us front line troops have been getting it so wrong!

The Locum 20 October, 2023 2:42 pm

In my 40s, I’m so sick and tired of our politicians, of all colours, gaslighting the profession that I’m off to other climes in 2024. Every day spent listening to the rhetoric only re-inforces our family’s plans.
NHS General Practice is palliative.

Darren Tymens 20 October, 2023 4:28 pm

I don’t think we are asking for more money for the NHS. We are asking for a fairer distribution across all services – meaning a miniumum 11% for general practice, which is what we had under the previous labour administration back in the days when general practice was last sustainable and high quality – alongside reform of NHS management culture and training and also a reconsideration of the existing secondary care model (which is broken).

Some Bloke 20 October, 2023 4:55 pm

the best protest vote currently, and given the choice, is not to vote at all. they are all dispiseable creatures who are in politics only to feather their own nests. hard to describe how much I loathe the entire lot.

Andrew Jackson 20 October, 2023 5:03 pm

they are all petrified of defining a safe working day (and therefore what you can expect from your GP career) for a GP as the system will collapse

Douglas Callow 20 October, 2023 5:08 pm

Stamer is no Tony Blair and sadly Wes is no Andy Burnham or Alan Millburn credited for delivering modernisation to the NHS in the New Labour years as well as investment

Dave Haddock 20 October, 2023 8:25 pm

Wes has no plan. He cannot even decide if Partners are friend or foe. The inevitable labour default is to throw even more money at the NHS, fixing nothing.

Dr N 20 October, 2023 11:56 pm

Oh dear

The Chief Socialist 22 October, 2023 8:05 pm

If this joker is a product from Great Britain, (and potential Health Minister) she may not have much Greatness left in her.

Dude what happened to my country? You keep electing such great people to rule over it; it only gets better each time ☺️

Having said that; he is a shroud politician.. he is writing in “The Timed” (guest who he is taking to), and definitely not aimed at the Self-Important RCGP & BMA leaders who live in a cuckoo land brought this GREAT PROFESSION to the ground.

Don’t I love socialism and it’s Institutions. Keep asking for more peanuts and more of the same (e.g MORE regulations, MORE GPs, MORE AARS etc)

The Chief Socialist 22 October, 2023 8:08 pm

In short-
He needs more of your subservience for less money. What a way to treat highly skilled and experienced professionals with decades of training.

Don’t hold your breath, he is going to make Steve Barclay look like a saint, I am telling you!

Julian Spinks 24 October, 2023 9:13 am

When looking at the two main parties I am reminded of the end of Orwell’s Animal Farm where the farm animals look in on a dinner with the humans and pigs (their new masters)

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

A Non 24 October, 2023 12:16 pm

Julian Spinks – absolutely spot on

L-J Evans 12 November, 2023 6:03 pm

Whenever his name is mentioned, I always thinkg “Oh, Wes!” as per the South Western Railways adverts (please Google, if you don’t know what I’m on about).