Thank you for having me back as Health Secretary.
I always believed doing this job is one of the biggest privileges of my life and I am incredibly proud to be responsible once again for so many remarkable people doing their best for patients every day.
Last week I spoke about one of the cornerstones of the NHS; general practice.
The Royal College of GPs estimated that there were 370 million consultations in general practice last year - 90% of all patient contact - and demand is likely to keep growing as a result of an ageing population, changes in patients’ health needs, and rising public expectations.
The number of people with 3 or more long term conditions is set to increase by 50% to almost 3 million by 2018, while people understandably expect to be able to access services at evenings and weekends. None of this is possible without a transformation in the way we deliver GP services.
That means more GPs - around 5000 more - on top of increases in other parts of the primary care workforce including more practice nurses, district nurses, physicians’ associates and pharmacists.
It means better infrastructure, which our investment of £1 billion for improvements in the primary care estate will help. And it means tackling the bureaucracy and burnout that have too often sapped morale in the profession.
In return patients should find it easier to see a GP with practices working collaboratively across their communities to provide evening and weekend access to services.
We also need to empower GPs to take greater responsibility for the overall care that patients receive and their health outcomes.
The new GP scorecard will help support quality improvement by providing unprecedented transparency about the quality of primary care.
Going forward we will see more changes in general practice than any other part of the NHS in the coming years - changes that recognise the vital role GPs play at the heart of a modern, patient-centred healthcare system.
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