Speaking at the RCGP’s annual conference in Harrogate, Yorkshire, this afternoon Mr Hunt said he would like to be regarded as the champion of doctors, nurses and patients.
Mr Hunt spoke of changes including moving to pro-active primary care, freeing up GPs who were being deprofessionalised and ‘micro-managed to death’. He described a myriad of targets, including QOF, ‘some of which you tell me don’t have great clinical value’.
He added: ‘It ruins the scope of professional discretion if every single action you take is directed by the need to generate income.’
Mr Hunt failed to directly mention the recently announced £50m for pilots for seven-day opening until it was brought to his attention by audience member and Surrey GP Dr Pete Deveson and he was also light on detail about plans to make a named GP responsible from April first for the frail elderly and then for other members of the population.
Dr Deveson said being available 84 hours a week - 8am and 8pm seven days - was unsafe and unsustainable. He was applauded after telling the health secretary: ‘You can have continuity or access but you can’t have both. You have to choose.’
Also applauded was GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash who said: ‘I think we need stability, funding and extra GPs. We don’t need to be told to open longer.’
Mr Hunt replied that GPs who made savings would find a proportion of them would flow back into practices. He said continuity was more important for frail elderly patients while the fit and healthy valued access.
RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘We are at serious risk of destabilising our NHS. You want continuity, access and affordability but you can only have two of those three.’