GPs offered 'new deal' if they agree seven-day opening

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Media captionHealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt says he will increase the GP workforce by 10% to deal with the added workload

The government is promising a "new deal" for GPs in England - if they sign up to seven-day opening.

In a speech on Friday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will promise extra investment and help for under-pressure services.

The package includes plans to recruit 5,000 new GPs and another 5,000 support staff, including practice nurses.

Financial incentives may be offered to those willing to work in the most deprived areas.

Those who have left the profession or want to work part-time will be given more help, Mr Hunt will promise.

But he will say that in return, GPs need to get on board with his plans for weekend opening, which involves groups of practices pooling together to share the extended hours.


It builds on plans set out at the start of this year for NHS England to make the profession more attractive as the NHS is struggling to recruit new doctors.

More than one in 10 GP training places remained vacant last year.

A survey of more than 15,000 GPs by the British Medical Association before the general election in May suggested a third were considering retiring in the next five years and one in 10 was thinking about moving abroad.

Mr Hunt will urge GPs to work with him. "I want to be upfront: this is not about change I can deliver on my own," he will say.

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Media captionDr Niki Dhanjal: "We don't feel the pressure on Friday evenings or Monday morning, the whole week runs seamlessly"

"If we are to have a new deal, I will need your co-operation and support.

"Within five years, we will need to look after a million more over-70s.

"Put simply, if we do not find better, smarter ways to help our growing elderly population remain healthy and independent, our hospitals will be overwhelmed."

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Dr Chaand Nagpaul, of the British Medical Association, said GPs were "ready to work with the government".

But he warned seven-day services may not be the right idea to push forward with.

"Pilots of seven-day routine working are increasingly demonstrating a low uptake of routine weekend appointments," he said.

"Therefore, to make the most of the limited GP workforce and precious NHS resource, the government should focus on supporting practices during the day and further develop the current 24/7 urgent GP service so that patients can be confident of getting access to a quality GP service day and night."

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