Mr Hunt took questions for 25 minutes at the RCGP’s annual conference in Liverpool after his speech and was asked by Bedfordshire GP Dr Frances Cranfield what three things the government would do to stem the numbers of GPs quitting the country ‘leaving general practice at crisis point’.
Another disputed the figures Mr Hunt gave of an extra 1,000 full-time equivalent GPs entering the profession since 2010 and appeared to throw his agenda onto the stage in disgust when Mr Hunt replied that they were correct and from Health Education England.
Mr Hunt said the government was hoping to increase the number of GPs by 5,000, 3,000 less than a recent Labour pledge, and that this would include ‘looking at different workforce models that can reduce the pressure on GPs and their administrative tasks’.
He said that the profession also had a responsibility in the way that it described the job to not put off budding applicants.
Kent GP partner Dr Stephanie de Giorgio criticised politicians for denigrating GPs and stoking inappropriate patient demand.
Mr Hunt replied: ‘I do believe that we have to respond to the public’s challenges and expectations. We can’t totally run away from them. There is a huge pressure on A&E and the public is saying when there is something wrong on a Saturday it doesn’t want to wait until Monday or Tuesday to get it sorted out.’