Jeremy Hunt shifts blame for poor elderly care onto GPs

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Posted on: 10 September 2013 by Gareth Hargreaves

Health Secretary says poor service received by most vulnerable is down to Labour and not the top-to-bottom cuts the coalition has made to front line NHS services.

GP contracts changed under the last Labour government have led to a breakdown in the relationsip between GPs and their registered patients, according to Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Writing in The Telegraph, Hunt says: "We need a much better way for vulnerable old people to journey through the NHS."

"They need someone from the service to be keeping tabs on them and championing them through the system all the time - and making sure they're a name, not a number, whether or not they are in hospital.

"As a member of the public I would like that responsible person to be my GP - but of course they will need support from many others, including our dedicated district nurses."

"Since the last government's misguided changes to the GP contract, it's become easier to go to A&E and harder to go and see a GP."

Mr Hunt's view was quickly countered by  Clare Gerada, chair fo the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), who said the system's failing were "to do with the fact we are 10,000 GPs short."

Gerada's comment highlights the disparity between what the RCGP believes to be an ideal number of GPs against the rather underwhelming increase Mr Hunt proposes, saying: the government had "plans for 2,000 more GPs" and he would be "looking to see if that's enough".

It show a total detachment from the realities of front line health service provision, that the Health Secretary can berate the very people who have maintained the same high levels of NHS service in spite of massive cuts and a top-down restructure.

Speaking of the minister's comments, Dr Gerada said: "I'm sure Mr Hunt regrets saying that emergency doctors know their patients better than their GPs because there's blatantly no evidence for that."

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