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Seven-day GP access ‘will not be a priority’ following PM’s resignation



Exclusive Routine seven-day general practice is not going to be ‘anybody’s priority’ once David Cameron steps down as Prime Minister, a senior Government adviser has said.

NHS England’s national adviser on new models of primary care Sir Sam Everington told Pulse that the new cabinet, once it has been established, will undergo a ‘complete rethink’ of the NHS.

He said that a new government will prioritise ways to keep people out of hospital, and seven-day routine care – including in general practice – ‘is not going to be a priority for anyone’.

Sir Sam, who is chair of NHS Tower Hamlets CCG, was NHS England’s chief adviser on NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which set out its strategy and introduced the ‘new models of care’, which will see organisations providing both primary and secondary care. 

Speaking to Pulse, he also cast doubt on pledges that the exit from the European Union will lead to extra money for the NHS.

He said: ‘I suspect that any new regime that comes in is going to have a complete rethink of the NHS and how they manage the massive financial challenge. Whatever people promised around £350m a week extra for the NHS – I don’t think anyone believes that in reality that is going to happen.

‘So in those circumstances, it will be actually how do we manage with the resources we’ve got in this moment in time and use them most effectively to deliver care for patients.’

Asked whether he thought routine GP appointments on a Sunday, which have come under particular questioning, would be a part of that, Sir Sam said: ‘Well it is not going to be a priority for anybody. Priorities are to keep people out of hospital. Priorities at the weekend, in the community, is to deal with urgent care. It is to keep complex patients out of hospital by giving them support in their community and enable people to get out of hospital on the weekend. That has to be the priority.

‘Routine weekend care is not going to be the priority for the future.’

Seven-day routine GP access has been pushed by Mr Cameron, who has taken ownership of the scheme.

In 2013, he announced that the ‘PM’s Challenge Fund’ would provide £400m for schemes that offer 8am-8pm routine access, seven days a week.

The first pledge in the Conservatives’ 2015 election manifesto said the party would ‘provide seven-day a week access to your GP and deliver a truly seven-day NHS’.

He also announced a new voluntary contract for practices to provide seven-day services open to practices or groups of practices covering more than 30,000 patients. Pulse reported this week that the contract is set to be on 15-year terms and could include provisions for GP indemnity costs to be paid and an end to CQC inspections at a practice level.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt – who has stewarded the rollout of seven-day routine GP appointments under Mr Cameron – had considered putting himself forward for the role as Conservative Party leader but decided against it.

The party membership will be voting on their next leader – either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom – with the result due 9 September.