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#GPnews: Health secretary welcomes ‘reassurance’ for vast NHS workforce from EU

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17:10 Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has welcomed the details of the Government’s offer to EU citizens working in England.

Although doctors leaders had called for all EU citizens working in the NHS to be allowed to stay regardless of how long they have been in the country, the Prime Minister’s offer of ‘settled status’ extends only to those who have been in the country for five years.

Others will be able to apply for a temporary residency status, as the BBC reports in detail here.

But despite this, Mr Hunt suggested the news gave NHS staff from the EU the necessary reassurance that they can stay in the country.

He said: ‘People from the EU make an incredible contribution to our NHS and we want them to continue to do so long after the UK leaves the European Union.  

‘This commitment today makes clear we are prioritising the rights of EU citizens during EU exit negotiations – and these proposals offer staff working in the NHS the reassurance they deserve.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did not agree, telling Theresa May it was ‘too little, too late’.

16:05 GPs are about to be asked to do more to boost flu vaccine uptake in at-risk groups, as NICE publishes new guidance in January.

Read the full story on what NICE wants here.

13:00 Saving general practice in Northern Ireland should be made an urgent priority for the extra £1bn NI funding negotiated by DUP, doctors leads have said.

BMA NI chair Dr John D Woods said: ‘There are a number of priority areas that need tackled urgently; the crisis in general practice has been well documented and the BMA has made it clear that a rescue package is needed now.

‘We also need to take steps now to address the growing shortage of doctors across Northern Ireland in order to meet population needs.’

He said the money must not just be used to clear waiting lists, adding: ‘This investment gives us a real opportunity to implement a radical and far reaching transformation of health in Northern Ireland. We will be seeking a meeting with the Department of Health to lay out our ideas for how this money can be best used.’

12:15 Northern Ireland is to receive an extra £1bn in funding to spend on healthcare, education and infrastructure over the next two years.

In return, the DUP has agreed to back the Tories to govern the UK for the next five years, with a review in two years’ time, reports the BBC.

11:35 Prime Minister Theresa May is ‘in denial’ about the crisis in the NHS, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said.

Responding to the BMA’s public opinion poll, Mr Ashworth said: ‘The vast majority of the public are deeply concerned and yet Theresa May remains in utter denial of her government’s flagrant disregard for our health service. 

‘Enough is enough. Only Labour can be trusted to deliver a world class health service, properly funded and free at the point of use for all.’

09:15 As the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) kicks off today, chair Dr Mark Porter is using his opening speech to warn that the NHS is now ‘running on fumes’.

As a new BMA poll finds seven in ten people think the health service is ‘heading in the wrong direction’, Dr Porter says: ‘We have a government trying to keep the health service running on nothing but fumes. A health service at breaking point. Run by ministers who wilfully ignore the pleas of the profession and the impact on patients.

‘It doesn’t have to be this way. It is the result of an explicit political choice. We don’t have to spend less of our GDP than the other leading European economies on health.

‘Our government has chosen to do this. If we spent the average – the average, not the most – then patients would see £15bn extra investment in the English NHS within five years.

‘We’re not asking for the world. We’re asking for the average. For a fair chance to create the health service our patients need and deserve.“Passing the buck is not a solution. Blaming staff is not a solution. Giving the NHS the resources that patients have told us they need – that’s a solution.’

The ARM is Dr Porter’s last as chair, as he is set to hand over the top job to GP Committee chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul. The BMA is choosing a new GP leader in July.