Cameron promises more flexible GP hours

 

David Cameron: ''This is about getting services right''

David Cameron says he wants to offer more patients the chance to visit a GP in the evening or at weekends.

Under a scheme to be piloted in nine areas of England, surgeries will be able to bid for funding to open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

The prime minister said the £50m project would mean doctors "fit in with work and family life".

Mr Cameron has also denied his plan for a budget surplus in the next Parliament will lead to further spending cuts.

The prime minister said the 2008 banking crisis had brought the UK economy "to the brink" and it would be irresponsible not to put money aside for a "rainy day" when the economy improved.

In other developments on the penultimate day of the Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester:

  • Mr Cameron said he would welcome Boris Johnson back to Parliament while the Mayor of London has urged the Tories to go "flat out" for victory in 2015.
  • The proposed marriage tax break is "very much a first step" to recognising the institution in the tax system, Mr Cameron said
  • The prime minister said he "understood" Ed Miliband's reaction to an article in the Daily Mail about his father and newspapers and politicians should show "judgement" about press limits
  • Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith outlined plans to force the jobless to attend 9-5 classes at job centres
  • Culture Secretary Maria Miller says a new £10m fund will be set up to mark UK historic events, such as forthcoming anniversaries of the Magna Carta and the Battle of Waterloo

Manchester is already piloting an extended-hours scheme for GPs, with family doctors grouping together to offer extra care, in what is being billed as an attempt to prevent "unnecessary" visits to hospital A&E wards.

'Skype appointments'

The wider scheme will see practices applying for a share of a £50m "Challenge Fund", with surgeries becoming "pioneers" in each of nine regions, starting in 2014/15.

Extended opening hours for GPs. Sounds familiar? It should.

The Labour government encouraged practices to open later in the evening and on weekends - offering them extra money if they did so.

Most GPs gave it a go. But the problem was that in many places there was just not the demand and so the funding was reduced and hours cut.

There are still plenty of surgeries that offer out-of-hours appointments, particularly in large urban areas.

But the truth is that the people who are most likely to make use of the service - those of working age - are the least likely to need a GP.

Whereas, the elderly and children who are the most frequent users tend not to have a problem attending appointments during regular hours.

Mr Cameron is also promising more "flexible access", including email, Skype and telephone consultations for patients who prefer this to face-to-face contact.

He told the BBC: "Many hard working people find it difficult to take time off to get that GP appointment, so having these pilot schemes... is, I think, a very positive step forward.

"It also links to the problems we have seen in our accident and emergency departments because the number of people going to A&E departments is up by four million since the changes to the GP contract that Labour put in in 2004.

"What we need to do is enable the right people with the right ailments, as it were, to either go to a GP or to accident and emergency."

'24/7 society'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "We live in a 24/7 society, and we need GPs to find new ways of working so they can offer appointments at times that suit hard-working people."

Jeremy Hunt: "We need to rediscover the ideal of family doctors"

The Royal College of GPs said doctors were keen to do more, but were already struggling with their workload.

"We now need the government to go much further and give general practice its fair share of the NHS budget so that GPs can deliver more care and better access to services for their patients in the community," it said.

But Labour said an extended opening scheme introduced by the last government had been scrapped.

"Under the Tories, hundreds of GP surgeries are shutting their doors earlier," said its health spokesman Andy Burnham.

"Patients are also finding it harder to get appointments, and turning to A&E instead, after he removed Labour's guarantee of an appointment within 48 hours."

In his speech to conference, Mr Hunt also pledged to legislate to give the Care Quality Commission statutory independence from government.

This would end "political meddling" and ensure the interests of patients were always put first, he said.

'No splurge'

The Conservatives say they would continue the coalition's policy of fiscal restraint throughout the next parliament - if they form the next government - with the aim of achieving a budget surplus.

Mr Cameron said this would require tough decisions for the next six or seven years but did not "necessarily mean" there would have to be more cuts on top of those announced up to 2016.

"What it definitely means once those years are over you cannot sort of plan another spending splurge. We are going to have to be responsible in our country for very many, many years into the future."

The government was right to focus on containing spending, he added.

"I don't think you tax your way to a strong recovery and we need to recognise that hard working people need more money in their pockets to spend as they choose."

The prime minister also insisted that the government would find the money to freeze fuel duty until 2015, describing help for motorists as a "real priority".

 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 153.

    Ah, yet another ill thought out wheeze for conference.

    GPs are already trying to reorganise healthcare via CCGs (hot on the heels of X reorganisations, where X is a very big number).
    Their contract is up for negotiation.
    This govt has increasd their wkload so they have to work harder for less.
    How on earth could they do this without more resources & without detriment to current services?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 152.

    My God don't tell me they've managed to say something without tagging 'hard working people' on at the start of it, in the middle of it or at the end of it. If I hear it again I think I'll spontaneously combust. I don't think the GPs are just going to roll over and agree to this. Might require another renegotiation of terms and salary rise on the deal they got from the previous incumbents.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 151.

    @137 i think you'll generally find that people don't bother making the appointment and will take themselves to the local A & E department and waste their time instead.....

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 150.

    So is this Cameron's big idea for this week? Big society seems to have come a cropper what with the Tories so obviously focusing any largese they have on the rich sector of society. This is like John Major and his cone war.

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 149.

    FINALLY!!! After literally decades of these people having the easy life. We want to be seen by a GP, we need to take time off work.

    A medical student at the time (Anaesthetist now) once told me, if you care about people you get a job as a doctor in a hospital.

    If you care about money you become a GP.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 148.

    101. solidgold - "Beware tory 'promises'"

    Are they as robust as Lib/Dem (tuition fees) and Labour (no increase in BR tax - NI instead)?

    Beware politicians promises!!

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 147.

    @106 GP Partner

    Disheartened by dissatisfied patients' comments? Poor lamb, would some more money help?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 146.

    Whether GPs working more flexible hours is the answer I don't know but recently my Mum was in absolute agony for weeks, over that period of time she had 3 GPs from her own surgery called out and all they gave her were painkillers when she needed to be in hospital. None of them put 2 and 2 together and got her in hospital. I doubt that out of hours GPs would solve this problem. Disgraceful!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 145.

    Would just be nice to actually get an appointment when you are actually ill and not make it week(s) in advance.
    When I do get an appointment the waiting room is always full of the same people. Especially old people, there should be better support for them.
    And pharmacies should be able to help treat 'simpler' issues and advise treatments.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 144.

    It still won't be easy to make an appointment.
    " I'm ever so sorry you have to ring the appointments number between 8 and 8.30 in the morning"

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 143.

    Opening hours reflect the 1960's rather than today. Receptionists are often unfriendly (poor customer service). And when you get an appointment, the surgery is full of people who don't need to be there. So, there is a cultural and a demand-side problem (we've become soft). Opening hours do need to be more 21st century. And WE need to stop running to A&E and the doctors every time we get a sniffle.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 142.

    115. Meadfoot

    Your not the only one who has trained and worked hard ...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 141.

    I fail to understand why surgeries c'ant open 7:30-11 then 3:30-8:00. The number of hours lost by working people having to take time off to visit the doctors is ridiculous, as the article says, the most frequent attenders are the elderly and children who aren't busy any time and a bonus would be that the GP could make house calls during the day (Oh, and NO extra costs!)

  • rate this
    +52

    Comment number 140.

    My excellent GP has recently retired at 60 - why?. Because in his words he joined the medical profession to practice medicine not to be an accountant and HR manager. The fact is that Cameron's creeping privatisation and top down meddling of the NHS means doctors now have to do ANYTHING BUT practise the skills that they have!. The Tories merely see the NHS as a cash cow for Companies like Circle

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 139.

    About time the doctors surgery's were open to suit those that work during the day and not just for lone parents ,pensioners and the unemployed.
    Can I recoup all the lost wages I have had to lose over the years because the hard working people of this country are treated as the under dog and second class and no thought was given to ensuring they got the same service as everyone else

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 138.

    96. knackered

    I think you will find that average dentists, lawyers, vets are generally paid a lot less than average GPs now.

    There is a shortage of GPs because so many can afford to work part-time and still live a reasonable lifestyle

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 137.

    If you have just typed, "I rarely bother because I can't get an appointment", or "i'm better by the time I get an appointment" Or similar. Take a think about that and wonder if it would have been a waste of time you going in the first place. How are you now? Still alive I assume???? Not missing any limbs?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 136.

    Simple solution - start invoicing patients £10 for missing appointments without good reason and refuse access to the GP until it's paid.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 135.

    And its another stupid idea from the Boy's Without a Clue,
    now we will have over worked doctors, tired, stressed out, depressed, and making dangerous mistakes in diagnosing patient's and know doubt leading to patient's deaths, Way to Go Cameron and the Government without a Clue when it comes to patients lives.
    A Doctor does not just do surgery they do hospitals care home's home visits, plus more

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 134.

    Proposing seven day GP care is playing to the Tory gallery in much the same way that Eric Pickles did by making a fuss about reinstating weekly bin collections. In the end people didn't want it.

    GP care is not generally time critical, few issues found on a Saturday can't wait until Monday to be addressed. For those that can't wait there are drop in centres and A&E. Fund them properly.

 

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  67.  
    11:28: Farage speech on immigration

    "We don't want mass immigration to continue as it is... we need better controls over our borders," Mr Farage says. He claims UKIP has a common sense policy on immigration. He adds UKIP is the only party that will talk honestly about immigration, which he says is the number one issue for most voters. He claims the current policy discriminates against skilled migrants from India and other parts of the Commonwealth in favour of unskilled migrants from southern and eastern Europe.

     
  68.  
    11:28: Pic: Farage speech
    Nigel Farage
     
  69.  
    11:23: Farage speech

    Mr Farage claims net migration levels used to sit at around 30,000 a year - he said earlier that he was referring to figures from the 1950s to the late 1990s. He continues by saying there is nothing wrong with wanting to control immigration, saying "we want to do what the Australians do". He claims an influx of unskilled migrants has also meant that for many the "minimum wage has become the maximum wage".

     
  70.  
    11:23: Farage speech on immigration

    "It is perhaps no wonder that 77% of the British public want us to take back control of our borders," says Mr Farage as he makes his opening salvo in his immigration speech. He then starts to link the pressure on services including the NHS and pressure on communities to immigration too.

     
  71.  
    11:23: Today in the Commons House of Commons Parliament

    The day in the House of Commons begins in a few minutes' time, as MPs put questions to the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb. Shortly after 12.00 GMT, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband face each other for Prime Minister's Questions.

     
  72.  
    11:21: Red-Green alliance?

    Tory MP Dominic Raab has laid into the Green party on the Conservativehome blog. He calls the party's policies dangerous and irresponsible. He also warns the Greens "may threaten Labour most. But, that wouldn't stop them forming a Red-Green alliance that draws from the most economically and socially irresponsible agenda presented by any UK party for a generation".

     
  73.  
    11:11: Guardian election poll

    The Guardian's latest election poll projects the Conservatives will win 277 seats at the general election, Labour 271, the SNP 51, the Lib Dems 25, UKIP 4, the Greens 1.

     
  74.  
    11:10: "Plebgate"

    In November former chief whip Andrew Mitchell lost his High Court libel action against News Group Newspapers over a story in the Sun in 2012 which claimed he called PC Toby Rowland a "pleb" during a row about whether he could cycle out of the main gates in Downing Street. Mr Mitchell acknowledged that he had used bad language but maintained he had not used that word. Delivering his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said he was satisfied that the MP did say the word "pleb". PC Toby Rowland counter-sued Mr Mitchell over the claims, hence today's settlement.

     
  75.  
    11:07: "Plebgate" payout
    Andrew MItchell

    If you're a little behind the times on the "Plebgate" row or it it passed you by somehow then the BBC has a handy timeline, which should take you through it all.

     
  76.  
    10:51: Plebgate pay out

    It's been a long and tangled tale, the plebgate saga. Here's our news story on the latest development - the £80,000 pay out by Andrew Mitchell to Pc Toby Rowland. We'll be building it up as more details come in.

     
  77.  
    10:45: 'Job isn't done' BBC News Channel

    Business Minister Matthew Hancock begins his interview rather like his boss did earlier by avoiding the question raised by the IFS report about the divergence in fortunes between young and old. "It's a big moment. This is very big news," he says, hailing the positives. But he goes on to say: "The job isn't done. We're moving in the right direction." He adds that the government doesn't "care about the data" but about individual people.

     
  78.  
    @matthewchampion Matthew champion, news editor at i100

    tweets: attention residents of Thurrock: do not buy any walls today.

     
  79.  
    @David_Cameron David Cameron
    David Cameron buidling a wall

    tweets: Seeing homes being built by @barrattplc in Thurrock. 95% will be sold to first time buyers with Help to Buy mortgages

     
  80.  
    @BiteTheBallot Bite the Ballot, movement to encourage young voters

    tweets: A third of people who registered to vote on #NVRD were aged 16-24: are you registered?

     
  81.  
    10:34: HSBC tax scandal

    Yup it's true, we've checked. John Humphreys did in fact ask George Osborne the same question six times as Ed Balls has claimed. In case you missed it, it was did he [the chancellor] speak to Lord Green about the allegations that HSBC clients had evaded tax before the government appointed him as a trade minister?

     
  82.  
    Breaking News

    From the Press Association: Pc Toby Rowland, the police officer at the centre of the notorious Downing Street "Plebgate" incident, has accepted £80,000 damages in settlement of his libel action against former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell, a High Court judge was told today.

     
  83.  
    @DPJHodges Dan Hodges, commentator for the Telegraph and Total Politics

    tweets: Joking aside, if you read @Nigel_Farage Telegraph article, most significant thing is change of tone. Migrant bashing gone. And that's good.

     
  84.  
    @JGForsyth James Forsyth, from the Spectator

    tweets: Most encouraging thing for the Tories about latest YouGov is that their vote share is up to 36%, might not be stuck in the low 30s anymore

     
  85.  
    10:12: HSBC tax scandal

    Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls has responded to Chancellor George Osborne's interview on the Today programme earlier. He accuses the chancellor of refusing to answer the same question six times. We may go back and listen to see if this is true.

    Mr Balls says: "George Osborne was asked six times whether he discussed allegations of tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green, the bank's former chairman, and six times he refused to answer.

    "What has George Osborne got to hide? People will draw their own conclusions from his total failure to answer.

    "The chancellor also struggled to explain why, since the government received these files in May 2010, only one person has been prosecuted out of 1,100 names.

    "David Cameron and George Osborne must now come clean about their discussions with Lord Green - both while he was a Tory minister and before they appointed him."

     
  86.  
    10:08: Age discrepancy BBC News Channel

    "The slowness of this recovery seems to me to be quite unprecedented," says Jonathan Portes, from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. He's being asked about the IFS's report out today. Mr Portes also points out something we spotted too, that George Osborne avoided answering when it was put to him on the BBC News Channel earlier that people over 60 are getting richer while younger people aren't.

     
  87.  
    09:52: Immigration cap

    Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, told the Today programme a week ago that existing limits on skilled migrants were "draconian". He said the fact the government couldn't block EU migrants meant all the burden fell on those people coming from outside the EU, "and that's really damaging". "They should be able to come here freely if they are qualified and able and many of them have been students here and often have to leave rather than work in the country they have come to call home," he added.

     
  88.  
    @asabenn Asa Bennett, @HuffPostUK business reporter

    tweets: Ukip's migration cap joins the flat tax and their 2010 manifesto in the "dumped by @Nigel_Farage" list

     
  89.  
    09:42: Coming up later Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Transport minister Claire Perry and shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn join Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn throughout the programme. They'll look ahead to the election with Tim Farron from the Liberal Democrats, and UKIP MP Mark Reckless will be on to discuss his party's immigration plans. Journalist and editor of Briebart UK James Delingpole will say why he thinks obese people are putting too much of a strain on the NHS, and there will be live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions. Desktop users can watch the programme live, or later, via the Live Coverage tab above.

     
  90.  
    09:40: Existing immigration cap

    It's also probably worth pointing out that last week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) said the current cap on skilled migrants entering the UK from outside the European Union - yes there already is one - of 20,700 annually was "damaging and restrictive" to the UK economy. It called on the government to raise the limit.

    In theory, as they argue, UKIP would be able to bring net migration down very swiftly if the UK were to leave the EU as they desire. Last week, official figures showed 57% of those coming to the UK were from Europe.

     
  91.  
    @paulwaugh Paul Waugh, editor of PoliticsHome.com

    tweets: Farage: "Our intention is to bring net migration to between 20k + 50k". From cap to target to ambition. And now an 'intention'

     
  92.  
    09:32: Salary target

    On the subject of migrants' salaries, you might be interested to know that Nigel Farage pays his wife, who was born in Germany, £27,000 a year to be his secretary. Here's the Daily Mail's story from last year about that.

     
  93.  
    09:28: 'Unskilled mass migration' BBC News Channel

    Pressed further by the BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith over his immigration policy, Nigel Farage says: "We need a degree of flexibility over what we need, and what we don't need is the continued mass migration into the UK of unskilled workers. Our intention is to bring net migration to between 20,000 and 50,000." He says the media are "obsessed by targets, let's talk about policy".

     
  94.  
    09:27: Policy muddle? BBC News Channel

    Mr Farage is asked if he is just making policy up as he goes along? He says not. He repeats his claim that 27,000 people would have come into the UK under the points system UKIP is proposing. "Some years it will be more, but at the moment net migration is running at 10 times what it was for most of last 50 years of the 20th century," he says.

     
  95.  
    09:25: Minimum salary BBC News Channel

    Asked if people coming to the UK would need to meet a minimum income target of £27,000 - something they had been expected to announce - Mr Farage says: "There will be no statement that it will be £27,000. It is likely to be £27,000. What we want is people who come to the UK with a skill, who don't have a criminal record or life threatening illness," he adds.

     
  96.  
    09:22: UKIP migration U-turn BBC News Channel

    Au contraire, says UKIP leader Nigel Farage, "it isn't a U-turn". "I don't think we get anywhere near 50,000," he says. Under an Australian points-based system only 27,000 people would have been admitted to the UK last year, he insists.

     
  97.  
    09:21: UKIP migration U-turn Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    It looks like UKIP are going to be completing a policy U-turn on immigration targets today. That's after UKIP's immigration spokesman Steve Woolfe told the BBC last week that the party was committed to a migration target of 50,000 coming to work in the UK, only for his party leader to claim UKIP would not commit to a target in a Daily Telegraph article today.

     
  98.  
    @JamesTapsfield James Tapsfield, Press Association

    tweets: Now describing Ukip net immigration target as a "range" of between 20k and 50k

     
  99.  
    09:16: UKIP immigration policy BBC News Channel

    "There isn't a U-turn, there's a change in emphasis," says Nigel Farage, when pressed whether his immigration policy has changed.

     
  100.  
    @LadPolitics Ladbrokes Politics

    tweets: UKIP heading for 6 seats according to @GoodwinMJ - currently 10/1

    Election briefing by Matthew Goodwin, associate professor of politics at Nottingham University
     

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