GP's challenge to Jeremy Hunt - why should we believe you?

Jeremy Hunt was forced to defend his record in office, as a GP in the audience at the RCGP conference told him he had allowed general practice to deteriorate since he became health secretary.

Jeremy Hunt responds to GPs' questions (Photo: Pete Hill)

The challenge from the floor came after Mr Hunt took to the stage at the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool on Thursday to make a key announcement that the government will introduce state-funded GP indemnity from April 2019.

The health secretary was challenged in a question and answer session to explain why GPs should believe promises in his speech that he would back general practice. The health secretary reasserted his goal of increasing the GP workforce by 5,000 and highlighted successive years of real-terms increases to funding devoted to general practice.

Dr Stephanie deGiorgio warned that members of the profession were ‘exhausted and drowning’ due to workload pressures. She said she had warned Mr Hunt at the RCGP conference three years ago about the pressures in general practice.

‘And it has gotten worse on your watch, as we told you it would,’ she added. ‘I ask why should we believe what you are saying today when you weren’t listening then?’

GPs under pressure

He responded: ‘I respectfully and professionally profoundly disagree with the sentiment of that question, and I'm sorry if that’s what you think. I did not say we would solve those problems overnight. I don’t think you could say for a moment I was ducking the challenges facing general practice.

‘The long-term issue is getting more GPs to do the work we need general practice to do – and what I have done in the three years since is I have put in a programme to get 5,000 more GPs – that doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of work.

‘I've announced plans to increase the number of doctors we train across the NHS by 25%, one of the biggest increases in the history of the NHS. And I am trying to do everything I possibly can to solve these issues.

‘What I would say is there are things you could do as well. There is evidence from the slides that I showed this morning that you can make a big difference in your own practice. This isn't something the health secretary will solve for you – it’s going to take work together.’

Full coverage of the RCGP annual conference 2017

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP receptionist on the phone

Some practices to receive funding to upgrade digital phone systems

GP practices whose digital phone systems do not meet new NHS England standards will...

Woman using mobile phone

Safety issues with remote GP consultations 'extremely rare', study shows

Safety incidents are 'extremely rare' in remote GP consultations but risk is higher...

BMA sign

BMA urges 'courtesy and respect' ahead of talks over physician associate roles

The BMA is set for urgent talks with NHS officials over fears its call for a recruitment...

Andrea Leadsom

DHSC confirms new minister responsible for general practice

Andrea Leadsom has been confirmed as the new DHSC minister for primary care and general...


Government must match consultants' pay offer in new contract for GPs

GPs have warned they could be forced into industrial action if the government fails...

Consultants in London on strike earlier this year

Consultants to vote on new pay deal to end strikes

Consultants will vote on a government pay offer that would increase salaries by up...