Editorial: Now GPs need a more radical new deal

There is much to praise in health secretary Jeremy Hunt's new deal for GPs (see page 3), unveiled at a south-west London practice earlier this month and streamed live on our website, GPonline.

We welcome his recognition that practices in difficulty need real financial help (£10m allocated), and more GPs are needed (5,000, although where are they to be found?), and his announcement that improvements to access will be matched by funding and seven-day services do not need to be provided by all practices.

A national recruitment campaign extolling the virtues of general practice is good news – it could be called Choosing General Practice, the title of a recent essay competition for would-be GPs in this title and on GPonline. First, however, to ensure this is not just a cosmetic exercise, improvements need to be made to GPs’ working lives.

The suspicion also persists that seven-day general practice makes for rather a nice political soundbite, but in reality will not be for everyone, as the North Yorkshire pilot in NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby found (see page 3).   

But there is also the suspicion that the new deal could be more radical. On page 15, GP examines the RCGP blueprint for general practice, which includes ideas that would help the profession to reduce the bureaucracy that slows it down and increases the risk of burnout.

RCGP ideas likely to find favour with GPs include ending the QOF (although this was not backed at the recent LMCs conference in London) and making CQC inspections less onerous (LMCs called for the CQC to be scrapped).

Mr Hunt has dodged the issue of reducing bureaucracy by requiring NHS England (which may be viewed as where much of the bureaucracy originates) to look at how things can be made easier for GPs. A bolder health secretary would have run with the more radical solutions in the RCGP blueprint. New deal for GPs, Mr Hunt? Not bad, but could do better.

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