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PM announces ‘new deal’ for GPs

The Government has promised a ‘new deal’ for GPs including a review of the GP contract to make the job more attractive.

In his first speech since the election, Prime Minister David Cameron said his vision was ‘a modern NHS working for you seven days a week’ adding that it ‘begins with a transformation of primary care’.

Speaking at a GP practice in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said: We must have proper joined up care built around what patients need: family doctors working together with hospital doctors, community nurses and carers and electronic health records available at the touch of a fingertip, all giving patients a real say over how they are cared for and who cares for them. That’s all in the plan.

‘So is a new deal for GPs with more investment, more training and a more personal link with patients. So is faster access to new drugs and treatments. And so is a proper focus on mental health.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, interviewed on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, said more details would be revealed next month but the deal will also focus on relieving the workload burden on existing GPs and tackling the problems with burnout.

He said that without GPs the NHS ‘does not have a future’.

He told the BBC: ‘We need to look at the terms and conditions of general practice, need to look at why GPs have so much burnout, we need to look at the contract – I’ve already got rid of about 40% of the targets in the GP contract – and as I say we have recruited more GPs.’

He added: ‘We need to look at the contracting arrangements around locums, look at the things in the GP contract that put people off becoming a GP. And at the heart of it, two things, GPs need to feel that they are valued, they need to feel that they are part of the future.

‘If you talk to GPs about what puts them off, they feel they aren’t valued as part of the future, and I’m saying that the NHS doesn’t have a future without doctors.’

The RCGP has been calling for a new deal for general practice, but commenting this morning RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said the Government’s seven-day access pledges risked creating patient expectations that GPs currently cannot meet.

She said: ‘[W]e have a severe shortage of GPs and it is difficult to see how this will work without major investment in general practice and a major boost to the GP workforce.

‘Many practices are already offering extended opening hours but for the majority, seven day opening remains an aspiration and telling patients that they can walk into their local surgery in the evening or at weekends risks raising expectations that general practice cannot live up to with current resources.’

The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October last year, also mentioned the new deal, which was to see NHS England investing ‘a much higher proportion’ of its budget on GP services including premises and a promise to ‘stabilise core funding’ for GPs for the next two years.

The news comes as Pulse has been campaigning for NHS England to tackle GP burnout and reinstate comprehensive occupational and mental health support for GPs and Pulse launched its second national GP burnout survey in March.