Speaking for half an hour to 2,000 delegates at the RCGP conference in Liverpool today, Mr Hunt won applause when he criticised Labour proposals to remove GPs’ independent contractor status and take away their commissioning powers.
He cited the example of GPs who refused to co-operate with Labour’s Connecting For Health IT plans earlier this century and instead set up their own EMIS medical records system as an example of where the profession’s independence and refusal to do what it was asked had benefitted patients.
To applause, Mr Hunt said: ‘It’s a big mistake to remove the independent contractor status of GPs and to turn them all into salaried employees of local hospital-led integrated care organisations.’
He said integrated care was an ambition shared by all but that in some parts of the country this could be led by GPs or local authorities.
He added: ‘It’s a huge mistake to remove GPs from the commissioning process. We’ve had huge advances in the last couple of years with GP voices around the top tables of CCGs. We are seeing really transformative innovation with clinical leadership.’
The only new policy announcement was that Health Education England had been asked by the government to do an independent study of what was needed in terms of GP workforce, area by area, across the country.