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#GPnews: GP leaders and Pulse editor debate NHS on Victoria Derbyshire programme

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13:15 And here’s that clip in full, if you missed it…

11:45  Leading GPs including RCGP chair Helen Stokes-Lampard and GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, alongside Pulse’s editor Nigel Praities, have spent the morning on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, taking part in a live debate about the state of the NHS.

When the conversation turned to the Government’s push for seven-day opening of GP practices, Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘There are some people who are working very hard in the week who would like more routine access at the weekend.

’But if we cannot provide a safe, comprehensive in-hours service – that’s a five-day service – plus a comprehensive, safe emergency service for our patients both in the community and in hospital then the seven-day argument for routine care is spurious and it’s a distraction.’

Mr Praities said: ‘We have looked very closely at the evidence for seven-day access in GP surgeries, and the evidence does show that it reduces people’s tendency to go to A&E. But it doesn’t reduce the more serious patients, the more serious patients will still end up in A&E.

‘And also if you look at the attendances, let’s be honest, patients often have something better to do on a Sunday afternoon than turn up at their GP surgery. Also I think that it costs twice as much than routine GP care for the weeekend care. We have looked at the numbers and it would cost roundabout £1.5bn for this policy by 2020.

‘Think about how that money could have been used during the five days during the week to reduce waiting times for a routine appointment. Also I think there’s a fallacy as well – the Government says you’ll see your GP seven days a week but it’s not your GP, it’s a hub somewhere, often quite a distance away… If we’re talking about cost versus value, it is often better to see your GP. In the long run actually you’ll get better care and it will be cheaper also in the long run.’ 

Click here to watch the programme via the BBC

10:55 The Labour Party has commented on the findings of Pulse’s investigation into GP out-of-hours services, which revealed that one in ten areas was left without GP cover.

Julie Cooper MP, shadow health minister, said: ‘It is shocking to hear that some out of hours services, which are designed to provide medical care at weekends and in the evenings, are being run with no GP cover.

‘This situation could have huge implications for patient safety and places yet further pressures on overcrowded, overstretched Accident and Emergency Departments.

‘The crisis in general practice is widely acknowledged. Today’s report highlights the impact GP shortages are having on patients and Labour is calling on the Government to take urgent action to deal with the pressures facing general practice.’

09:35 Overseas patients who are ineligible for free NHS care will be made to pay upfront from April, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

He is hoping that the law change, which will come in from April, will lead to big takings for hospital trusts.

He said: ‘We aim to recover up to £500 million a year by the middle of this Parliament – money that can then be reinvested in patient care.’

It comes as some hospitals, including Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, are already piloting asking patients to prove they are UK residents by producing a passport and a utility bill, reports the Telegraph.