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“We need to empower general practice,” Jeremy Hunt said

21 May 2015

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Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, has revealed he thinks we need to “empower” and have a “very big focus” on general practice in the next five years.

Hunt, the secretary of state for health, said yesterday that he thinks general practice is perhaps one of the most de-moralised parts of the NHS at the moment and that it is one of his priorities.

Speaking at the fifth annual leadership and management summit by the King’s Fund in London he said: “If we really are going to implement the part of the forward view that talks about prevention rather than cure then we need to find a way of empowering general practice, addressing the issues of burnout in general practice, of making sure that what GPs do is aligned with what the whole of the rest of the NHS needs to happen and significantly improving the capacity of general practice and the numbers of GPs.”

He said that there are not going to be any big reorganisations of the NHS, but that he wants to improve transparency of the quality of care, and possibly publish this annually, so that health organisations have more freedom in the devolution of power.

“If we had a metric that properly measured the quality of mental health provision in Somerset versus the quality of mental health provision in Gloucestershire and this was public and published annually, then I think I and Simon Stevens [chief executive of NHS England] can be pretty relaxed about the model of care.  So in Somerset they might go for a local authority delivered model, somewhere else they might go for a GP-led model.”

However, he said “part of the bargain” in doing this would be that if the quality falls below an acceptable level then there would have to be intervention.

In terms of budgets, Hunt said that part of the £8bn which David Cameron has pledged for the NHS will come from cuts in other government departments so “there is only so much that the NHS can reasonably ask for in that context”. Hunt also said that he didn’t believe the only way to hit a target was by attaching money to it and that peer reviews could be used to improve the standard of care in the NHS.

Other plans he mentioned were a new public health agenda about diabetes and childhood obesity, improving access to cancer care and continuing to increase patient safety in hospitals.