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Hunt thanks frontline staff for working over Christmas

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has thanked frontline staff for working over Christmas in a holiday message to the NHS.

In the message, Mr Hunt offered his ‘sincere thanks’ to all NHS staff who ‘give up precious family time’ to ‘allow us to enjoy the festivities’.

Acknowledging that the NHS ‘is busier than it has ever been’, Mr Hunt reminisced his ‘frontline shifts’ in hospitals and GP surgeries over the year, where he has ‘seen countless examples of the hard work that goes into making our NHS so great’.

Mr Hunt said: ‘Many of you this Christmas will be sacrificing your precious family time to work in our front line services. You allow us to enjoy the festivities, safe in the knowledge that our NHS is continuing to help those who need care and medical attention. Each year I hear heart-warming stories of NHS staff keeping up the spirits of those unable to spend their festive period at home and with their families. This vital role is much appreciated.’

He added: ‘I offer you all sincere thanks for your unwavering service. I hope that you find the time to enjoy the festivities and Christmas period.’

He also took the opportunity to thank NHS staff who are fighting the spread of ebola in West Africa, such as GP rebel Dr Gordon Gancz.

Mr Hunt said: ‘A special mention and thanks should also be given to our NHS colleagues who, along with staff from Public Health England, have volunteered to help combat the global ebola crisis in West Africa. Although far away from home this Christmas, they are not far from our thoughts.’

It comes as NHS England has threatened GP practices with breach notices unless they enter into contractual arrangements with out-of-hours cover providers during core hours over the Christmas and New Year period.

But BMA advice said: ‘You may be aware that NHS England recently issued guidance on this matter, distributed to area teams, in which it was claimed that practices could receive breach notices if they fail to open from 8am to 6.30pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This is not consistent with the contractual regulations and we have alerted NHS England of this inaccuracy.’

GPs will also have to ensure that any cover organisation has access to patient records and receives sign off from their CCG, under guidance issued by NHS England to practices.