DH says it has no plans yet for GPs to support struggling urgent care services

The government has said it has no plans for GPs to support struggling urgent care services, despite the suggestion made by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this week.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: Pete Hill)
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: Pete Hill)

Mr Hunt told the House of Commons on Monday in an urgent statement on the winter pressures crisis that NHS England and NHS Improvement would ‘consider a series of further measures that may be taken in particularly distressed systems on a temporary basis at the discretion of local clinical leaders’.

He added: ‘These may include temporarily releasing time for GPs to support urgent care work.’

However, the DH has confirmed to GPonline that there are currently no plans to free up GP time to allow GPs to support urgent care work.

Earlier reports had suggested that Mr Hunt would announce an extension of the QOF reporting period by a month to the end of April to release GP time. But that announcement was not included in the health secretary's statement.

The GPC rejected Mr Hunt’s proposals which, they said, failed to recognise that general practice was under ‘the same if not more pressure than other parts of the health service’. GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey warned that any plans to extend the QOF submission deadline by a month would exacerbate pressure on general practice by creating delays to practice payments.

But, the RCGP called on the health secretary and clinical leaders to take ‘sensible decisions’, such as  suspening QOF targets, revalidation and CQC inspections to allow GPs to focus on patient care.

The DH confirmed to GPonline that details on Mr Hunt’s proposal had not been worked up yet, and that they were only a suggestion at this stage.

The government was continuing to work on plans to release GP time as outlined in the GP Forward View last April, the DH made clear.

An NHS England spokeswoman referred GPonline’s questions about Mr Hunt’s proposals back to the DH.

On Wednesday doctors’ leaders slammed the government for 'wilfully ignoring' the crisis in the NHS after the prime minister again dismissed claims by the Red Cross of a 'humanitarian crisis' in the service.

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