Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt in just 24 hours.
The petition launched via Parliament.uk, started yesterday and quickly surpassed the 10,000 signature target at which the Government must issue a response. This afternoon it has reached the 100,000 required to be considered for debate in Parliament, having attracted more than one signature per second.
Launched by north London-based consultant in internal medicine Dr Ash Sadighi, it accuses Mr Hunt of ‘alienating the entire workforce of the NHS by threatening to impose a harsh contract and conditions on first consultants and soon the rest of the NHS staff’.
A separate petition launched via Change.org on Sunday calling on Mr Hunt to resign, or Prime Minister David Cameron to remove him from his post, has received over 90,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, geriatric consultant Dr Dan Furmedge, who launched the Change.org petition, also said Mr Hunt’s speech had been ‘the last straw’.
His petition read: ‘In essentially calling doctors lazy and suggesting they need “a sense of vocation” he has offended the whole NHS workforce and demonstrated how little regard he has for us and how little he understands what we do.’
Commenting on the accounts, DH permanent secretary Dame Una O’Brien said 2014/15 ‘continued to be challenging for the Department and for the NHS’ and highlighted its achievement in ‘sustaining the continuity of NHS services, achieving overall financial performance and budgetary control in the face of increasing pressures, and planning for the future and the forthcoming spending review’.
Patients should be given health ‘Oyster cards’ that inform them of their personal financial impact on NHS resources, a Labour peer has suggested.
The system, inspired by Transport for London’s top-up travelcards, would see patients having to ‘swipe in’ each time they used services with a different amount of points deducted. Should they, for example, miss a GP appointment, a larger number of points would come off the card.
Although no actual money would need to be paid towards the usage, patients would need to ‘recharge’ their cards and at the end of the year they would recieve a bill outlining their total cost to the NHS, Lord Meghnad Desai suggested.
Speaking in a House of Lords debate, the baron said this would ‘make it clear to people that a free NHS is not a costless one’ and thereby perhaps impact their behaviour to minimise wastage of resources.
He said: ‘I propose a sort of health Oyster card for every citizen. Every time they used the NHS, they would have to swipe their Oyster card and a certain number of points would be deducted.
‘The Oyster cards could be recharged. At the end of the year, people would get a bill showing how many points had been used and on which health service facilities. If people missed a GP appointment, 15 points would be deducted rather than two.’
The suggestion comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he supported in principle the idea of charging patients for missed appointments but that it would be difficult to introduce in practice. The Government has since clarified it has no plans to introduce charges for missed appointments.
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GP leaders have opposed a proposal from the Conservative Party to fine patients referred to Welsh hospitals £10 if they do not go.
The party said the pledge, which comes ahead of next year’s Welsh Assembly elections, is a response to a report showing 1.2m hospital appointments were missed in the last three years at a cost of £60m a year.
The report, by the assembly’s public account committee, also showed that patients failed to show up for over one in every ten GP appointments in Wales.
A a BBC Wales poll from earlier this year showed eight in ten Welsh people would support fines for both missed GP and hospital appointments, however GP leaders said that issuing fines risked damaging the doctor patient relationship.
An RCGP spokesperson told the BBC: ‘Introducing a charge for appointments would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of general practice, that healthcare is free at the point of need.
‘Missed appointments can be frustrating but in many cases there are valid reasons for patients not being able to attend, and they can be warning signs that something more serious is wrong.’
An increased number of patients waited a week or more to see or speak to someone the last time they contacted their GP surgery, the latest GP patient survey has revealed.
NHS England’s ‘GP Patient Survey – National summary report’, conducted by Ipsos MORI, found that the vast majority of patients’ satisfaction with their GP remains highly positive.
However, it also found that there were problems with accessing GPs in hours, finding that one in ten patients were unable to arrange a time to see or speak to someone at all when they last tried to do so.
At the same time, 17.9% of patients this year had to wait for a week or more for a phone or in-person appointment, up from 15.9% last year and 12.8% in 2012.