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Viewpoint: What is the health secretary trying to achieve?

Jeremy Hunt knows there needs to be recognition of practices that provide excellent personal care and good access, and that this is not taken into account in the present

GP contract.

Patients want better access to GPs and a shift back to the family GP, so a move towards this is likely to be a popular policy. Mr Hunt of course recognises that GPs cannot work all night and then all day, but we have to take responsibility for the provision of 24-hour care.

Named GPs

The most vulnerable patients need the assurance that they have someone to go to if they need to in the middle of the night, and A&E is not appropriate. As a named GP, I would be happy to ensure that a proper plan is in place for this group and that is the thrust of the policy. 

The reduction of targets is in direct response to GPs who have said that there is too much bureaucracy and this is affecting patient care. Data gathering outside the consultation is tedious and often prevents GPs concentrating on softer but more important work.

Politically, it is the right thing to do, trusting GPs’ professionalism to do the best for patients without descending into a fireside chat with no hard data or outcome measures. Patients want quality time with their GP. The point is to make the most of GPs’ time and this represents the health secretary responding to GPs and patients in a positive way.

Dr Paul Charlson is a GP in east Yorkshire and head of policy for Conservative Health. He is writing in a personal capacity.