Exclusive Prime Minister David Cameron has hit back at claims that his Government has been ‘anti-GP’ in an exclusive Q&A with Pulse.
Asked how he responds to GPs who are under the impression that this Government has run a concerted campaign to disparage GPs, Mr Cameron says this ‘is simply not true’.
The response comes after the health secretary placed the blame for A&E pressures on the 2004 GP contract, announced proposals to ‘name and shame’ GPs for for missing signs of cancer and hundreds of practices were labelled as ‘risky’ under the CQC’s flawed ‘intelligent monitoring’ data.
But, despite these examples, Mr Cameron maintained the argument that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 reforms ‘put GPs at the heart’ of the Government’s work on the NHS.
He highlighted the ‘named GP’ plan as something which has ‘strengthened the role’ of GPs and said he was ‘working with the profession’ to crack the problem of general practice needing modernisation and efficiency improvements.
Denying GPs have been disparaged, Mr Cameron said: ‘I think if you look at what we’ve done over the last five years, it is simply not true. GPs have been at the heart of much of our work on the NHS.’
He said that the NHS reforms put ‘decision-making, and lot of spending power, into the hands of GPs’.
Mr Cameron added: ‘We have looked to strengthen the role of GPs in how we provide care, with the introduction of the named-GP scheme, so the most vulnerable people get personal care from someone they know.
‘And finally, we put a big emphasis on bringing forward more GPs so as a country we have the capacity to provide the sort of care we all want, with over 1,500 more working or training during this Parliament and more to come in the next.’
The Q&A also put the Prime Minister on the spot with regards to dropping GP training numbers and how he can promise seven-day access across the UK when the profession is already struggling to meet patient needs in core hours.
But Mr Cameron responded: ‘In modern Britain, where people have busy lives balancing work and family commitments, I think it is right that we look at making sure people are able to see their GP at a time that suits them.’
‘The Challenge Fund gives GPs the opportunity to look at how to provide a more flexible and efficient service to their patients, which in turn should help deal with issues like waiting times.’
He refused to commit to fund the additional £8bn in funding to deliver the reforms outlined by NHS England chief executive, but pointed out that the recent Budget had delivered an additional £2bn in funding for the NHS.
Mr Cameron further reiterated that the Goverment ‘expects to train thousands of GPs every year from 2016 onwards’ including ‘incentives to encourage medical trainees to move into primary care’.