Jeremy Hunt says GPs must open seven days in return for investment

Practices across England will be expected to make services available seven days a week in return for investment, a GP recruitment drive and cuts to red tape in a 'new deal' for general practice unveiled today.

Jeremy Hunt: new deal for GPs (Photo: Pete Hill)
Jeremy Hunt: new deal for GPs (Photo: Pete Hill)

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the plans live on GPonline in a webcast from a south-west London GP practice at 9.30am on Friday.

The health secretary pledged to recruit 10,000 new clinicians for primary care – including 5,000 more GPs as part of the deal. The RCGP and BMA will lead a campaign to recruit the ‘best and brightest’ students to the profession, he revealed.

Read more: Jeremy Hunt speech in full

Investment in general practice will come from the £1bn primary care infrastructure fund announced last year. More than 1,000 GP practices have now had bids approved provisionally for £190m in investment in premises, Mr Hunt said.

New deal GP pledges:

  • At least 10,000 extra primary care staff – including 5,000 GPs, practice nurses, district nurses, physician associates and pharmacists.
  • New data from NHS England on staffing levels to help focus recruitment on under-doctored areas.
  • Extra year of education for trainee GPs in a clinical speciality relevant to primary care, such as paediatrics, psychiatry or emergency medicine.
  • Explore targeted financial incentives to attract doctors into areas of greatest need.
  • National marketing campaign, led by the RCGP and BMA to encourage medical students to choose general practice, highlighting that it will be the biggest growth area of the NHS in coming years.
  • New flexibilities for GPs who wish to work part time and support for returners.

Mr Hunt will say in his speech: ‘Within five years we will need to look after 1m more over-70s. The number of people with three or more long-term conditions is set to increase by 50% to nearly 3m by 2018. By 2020 nearly 100,000 more people will need to be cared for at home.

‘If we do not find better, smarter ways to help our growing elderly population remain healthy and independent our hospitals will be overwhelmed – which is why we need effective, strong and expanding general practice more than ever before in the history of the NHS.

New deal for GPs

‘I am keeping my pledge to announce a new deal for general practice. If we are to have a new deal I will need your co-operation and support – both in improving the quality and continuity of care for vulnerable patients and delivering better access, seven days a week, for everyone.

‘Work together on a new deal and we really can transform the quality of primary and community services for patients, reduce burnout and put the inspiration and magic back into general practice. I hope you will join me on that journey.’

Mr Hunt pledged that £750m more would be allocated to general practice from the £1bn investment fund over the coming three years.

He also announced a £10m turnaround programme for struggling practices to be led by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

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