Leading doctor launches second attack on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over 'childishly superficial and misleading' comments

Dr Laurence Buckman also said Hunt had made a mess of introducing the troubled NHS 111 emergency line

The growing divide between GPs and the Coalition grew larger today as the chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) GPs committee accused the Government of using the NHS as a political weapon.

In a two pronged attack on Radio 4’s Today programme and then during the BMA’s annual GP conference, Dr Laurence Buckman said GPs were “over worked and strained beyond endurance”.

In his speech, he criticised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for the second time, advising him to “start listening now.”

He said: “We meet today at a critical point for the NHS and for general practice. It is no exaggeration when I say a signal has been passed at danger – the NHS is under real threat. All of us but the politicians can see the buffers fast approaching. When is the driver going to pay any attention to any advice? Mr Hunt, start listening now."

Dr Buckman said that GPs were constrained by box ticking and micromanagement and that this was producing an unnecessary work load.

He argued that GPs need time to be able to “treat patients holistically, to treat patients as people not diseases, and offer the continuity of care that we and they want and need.”

“It's time to give time to the patients who really need our care and attention, the vulnerable and the frail and the patients who the NHS currently fails.”

During the Today broadcast Dr Buckman had attacked Mr Hunt for making “childishly superficial and misleading” claims about the role of GPs in exacerbating problems at overstretched accident and emergency departments.

Dr Buckman had argued that Hunt had made a mess of introducing NHS 111, a non-emergency number for rapid medical advice, and was now passing the blame to family doctors. He added that if GP contracts had been to blame for problems in accident and emergency, it would have been apparent since 2004 when they were reformed - not only in recent months.

“The biggest problems have been recently, and stoked by the incessant accusation it is something to do with GPs,” he said.

“People who go to A&E are not going because of GPs. There is no doubt some of it is because people are confused about how to get access to out of hours services and some of it is because NHS 111 is sending people there.

The Health Secretary defended his position, insisting the problems seen in accident and emergency departments in recent months are partly the result of ageing demographics, but also because out of hours care does not work properly under the 2004 GP contracts.

Responding on the same programme, Mr Hunt said: “It's a complex problem and the main issue we are dealing with is a big growth in the number of older people... in the next few years we will have several million older people who have not one, not two but three or more complex conditions.

“The argument I want to make is that we need to have a clinician accountable for those people when they are outside hospital just in the same way a consultant is responsible for them when they are inside hospital if we are going to give them the kind of care we all want the NHS to do.

“It's a big change and I think the GP contract is part of the problem.”

Mr Hunt said he did not want to return to the days of GPs getting calls directly from patients at 2am, adding he acknowledged GPs worked extremely hard.

“What I question is whether we are allowing them to do the things they went into general practice to do,” he said.

“What they want to do is to take personal responsibility for some of the most frail and vulnerable people on their lists. What we make them do on the contract is make them tick lots and lots of boxes.

“I want to change that. I think the current GP contract is fundamentally flawed by removing responsibility for out of hours services from GPs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Officer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee Teacher - Maths

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organization is the larges...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor