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Doctor: Tory pledge on GPs is pursuit of 'easy headlines'

The government is using "old, repackaged ideas" to attract new GPs in the "pursuit of easy headlines", a leading doctor is expected to say today, accusing the Tories of distracting from the central issues.

At the British Medical Association's annual representative meeting in Liverpool today, the organisation's head Dr Mark Porter will warn measures do not go far enough to overcome the shortage of GPs - let alone make the NHS a truly seven-day service.

Dr Mark Porter will warn the government's measures do not go far enough Credit: PA

The government has pledged 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

How will these new GPs be ready to start work in five years' time when it takes 10 years to train a GP?

How are they even going to recruit more GP trainees when hundreds of existing training posts are still unfilled? They don't say.

When will they provide substance over rhetoric and recycled ideas, to focus on the detail of how they will support GPs already burnt out from overwork, in a service where more than 10,000 GPs are predicted to leave in the next five years? They don't say.

Show us something real, because all we've seen so far is the pursuit of easy headlines.

– Dr Mark Porter, British Medical Association

He is expected to call on the government to reveal the finer details of its plans.

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Vitamin D deficiency 'not a factor in heart disease after all'

A lack of exposure to sunshine resulting in a vitamin D deficiency may not play a key role in heart disease and winter deaths after all, scientists have claimed.

A research team from the University of Dundee found that while low vitamin D levels did correlate with higher levels of cardiovascular disease, the cause was likely to be down to lifestyle and other risk factors.

Scientists found vitamin D levels played little to no role Credit: Reuters

When these elements were corrected for, vitamin D levels were found to play little or no role in the development of such diseases.

Researchers examined blood samples taken from thousands of men and women who agreed to have their risk factors measured after vitamin D was first linked with excess levels of winter disease in 1981.

We've known for many years that a low level of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but it was not clear whether lack of vitamin D directly causes the increased risk or is a consequence of other factors.

The long-term Scottish Heart Health Study, which the British Heart Foundation helped to fund, has provided a series of valuable insights over the years and they have now shown that that low vitamin D is result of other risk factors, rather than a cause of increased risk.

– Prof Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation

Patients 'don't want to see GPs at weekends' says BMA chief

Government plans to make GP surgeries open seven days a week are "very wasteful" and most patients do not want appointments at weekends, the head of the doctors' union has said.

Dr Porter questioned how productive weekend surgeries would be Credit: PA

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) told the Telegraph that money would be better spent on alleviating crowded surgeries during the week than the plan being driven forward by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Hunt announced a recruitment drive yesterday to secure a "dramatic" 10% increase in GPs, in a move to deliver the seven-day service.

Dr Porter told the Telegraph: "When the NHS is on probably the single most relentless drive for efficiencies it has ever been on, I would question whether it is actually a productive use of resources to put GPs practice resource into seeing patients at the weekend when relatively few want to turn up.

"It's really our weekday services that are crying out for investment."

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Poll: Should GPs offer a seven-day service?

The 'new deal' for GPs includes fresh investment in surgeries and recruitment. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Jeremy Hunt is unveiling a "new deal" for GPs if they agree to offer their patients appointments seven days a week.

But how do you feel about the scheme?

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Hunt: No capacity at present to offer seven-day GP service

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted general practice does not have the capacity to offer a seven-day GP service at present.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain Mr Hunt said the Conservatives were committed to providing an extra 5,000 GPs and offering a seven-day service during the course of the next parliament.

In the meantime, Mr Hunt said a scheme was also being rolled out across the country that would ensure all NHS patients will be able to access a routine appointment with a GP at evenings and at weekends either at their surgery or one nearby.

GPs already under pressure from 'unsustainable workload'

GPs are already under pressure from an "unsustainable workload" and need more time to care for their patients.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association general practice committee chair, has previously accused the Government of having a "surreal obsession'' with wanting to see GPs' surgeries opening seven days a week.

Above all, GPs want and need more time to care for their patients, but at the moment, nine out of 10 GPs feel their workload is preventing them from providing the quality of care patients need and deserve.

Unsustainable workload pressure is having a major demoralising effect on the profession - one that's pushing more and more doctors toward the exit. At the same time, younger doctors are put off general practice as a career choice.

– Dr Chaand Nagpaul
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