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#GPnews: Diane Abbott moves from shadow health brief

15:00 Also at the RCGP conference today, the minister for community care (including general practice) David Mowat spoke, raising the issue of rising GP indemnity costs.

He said that were it up to him, he ‘would rather the NHS budget, which is tight, is spent on doctors not lawyers’, but added: ‘That doesn’t mean we can necessarily put an end to it all.’

He said: ‘There are a whole stack of issues but at a structural level we do need to be doing more as a Government in health care – but in other areas as well – to make sure that specious claims don’t happen and that stresses that it can cause to you – as a group doing your best – are minimised.’

So far, the Government has promised to reimburse further hikes to cost from next year.

On another topic entirely, Mr Mowat also suggested GPs may be able to block the ‘STP’ secret plans for NHS transformation being drawn up around the country, should they completely disagree with them.

He said: ‘STPs will not go forward if they are not right and it does seem to me to be very hard in an area if there is a consensus among GPs in that area that there are concerns about that STP, then that would not be right, particularly if one of the structural reasons is to provide a tilt towards to general practice.’

13:15 With the second day well under-way at the RCGP’s annual conference in Harrogate, Pulse asked the College chair Dr Maureen Baker what she thought about health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plan to keep new doctors in the UK for four years. She had a few choice words..

11:43 NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG has become the latest to ration NHS services due to financial pressures, reports the Daily Mail.

The CCG, which needs to save £8.4m, will deny smokers and patients with a BMI over 30 operations while they are sent on a six-month smoking cessation or weight management programme.

As the paper reports, this comes as NHS St Helens CCG recently u-turned on a planned scheme to stop all non-urgent referrals for four months, and NHS Vale of York CCG has also abandoned rationing plans following criticism from clinicians.

Royal College of Surgeons vice president Ian Eardley said: ’The Royal College of Surgeons is very supportive of encouraging patients to join programmes that help them lose weight or stop smoking before surgery.

’However making it a condition of receiving that surgery, no matter how sick they are or how much pain they are in, is wrong.

He added that NHS England ‘has already said that denying operations to a particular group – such as smokers – is “inconsistent” with the NHS constitution’.

But CCGs chief officer Amanda Bloor said it was ‘vital that patients are given the skills and knowledge to take accountability for their own wellbeing to ensure we all lead healthier lifestyles’.

‘The CCG are not saying patients can’t have the surgery. By introducing a six-month health optimisation period, we are encouraging and supporting patients to undertake a lifestyle change which will provide them with the best possible clinical outcome,’ she added.

9:25 Diane Abbott has been moved from her role as shadow health secretary to become shadow health secretary.

Her replacement as shadow health secretary has not yet been named, although there are a couple of names in the mix:

Ms Abbott was only in the post for less than four months.

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