We spoke to GPs in different stages of their careers who watched Mr Hunt say that he understood the pressures they were facing and that improving support for GPs would be his top priority for the NHS.
Bristol GP partner and educator Dr Nicolas Snelling said he was pleased that Mr Hunt acknowledged the problems but did not expect them to be easily resolved: ‘Fundamentally there is not enough money and we are haemorrhaging GPs.
‘Unless the job becomes more attractive then we are not going to attract medical students into general practice.’
Dr Snelling said one of his partners had just resigned in his early fifties because he had ‘had enough’ of the daily pressures of the job. Another local practice had closed after the loss of two partners.
Gateshead GP Dr Neetika Dang said Mr Hunt needed to provide more evidence of his ability to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs.
‘How is he going to do it? Where are these recruits coming from, who are they that want to do the job?
‘I was a trainer until last year but stopped because I felt burnt out and now I cannot see myself going back to it because I could not genuinely pass on a passion for the role to my trainee.’
West Midlands GP registrar Dr Christopher Palmer, in his final year of training, said the ‘vagueness’ of Mr Hunt’s response to the crisis had worried him.
‘People are very reluctant to become partners at the moment because at least as a salaried GP you have standard terms and conditions, and as a locum you are your own boss. So practices might have to offer better terms.
‘The vast majority of people I know in training are planning to go abroad or become locums.’
Birmingham medical student Lucy Arnold is planning to train as a GP but said general practice was being promoted too late.
‘We are not told about general practice as an option until we are F2s, when we really need to know about it from the first year of medical school. It’s a massive problem.’
Fellow medical student Sangeeta Patel said: ‘I did not realise that there is such a lack of support for GPs. Only receiving 8% of the NHS budget is crazy – and it’s only going to get worse by the time that we get there.’
Australian GP trainee Dr Jagoda Szkurlat said she sympathised with the problems being faced by general practice in the UK.
‘It’s important that GP trainees have advocates that put the patients first but also acknowledge the needs of the professionals, otherwise we will not have the resilience and support that we need to support our patients.’
Photos (left to right): Dr Nicolas Snelling, Dr Neetika Dang, Dr Christopher Palmer, Lucy Arnold, Sangeeta Patel and Dr Jagoda Szkurlat