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Minister denies GPs are being nationalised

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CLAIMS that the government is trying to nationalise Jersey’s GP services, which could potentially deny Islanders the right to visit the doctor of their choice, have been dismissed as ‘falsehoods’ by the Health Minister.

Health Minister Richard Renouf

During yesterday’s States sitting Deputy Richard Renouf hit back at claims made by the Friends of Our New Hospital group in a half-page advertisement in Monday’s JEP.

The group, which is chaired by Bruce Willing, claimed that the government was trying to ‘introduce by stealth less palatable’ elements of its planned Jersey Care Model – a revamp of existing services – and wants to ‘impose an NHS model’. It was claimed that the government wants GPs to ‘relinquish’ their private practices and keep them on as employees, after effectively nationalising their services during the Covid-19 crisis.

Talks are currently ongoing about how that relationship will continue when the current deal ends in August.

Deputy Graham Truscott asked the Health Minister to comment in response to the advert and said that he had been contacted by Islanders concerned that they could lose the right to attend their GP of choice.

The minister stringently denied the claims.

‘I am disappointed that these five individuals have published falsehoods that I believe are there to pursue an agenda they wish to put forward,’ said Deputy Renouf.

‘I take issue with many of the statements they have made – I believe they are inaccurate. And we will continue to engage with members of the public as we bring forward the Jersey Care Model.

‘As I have said before, that has been validated now by work involving PwC and is being considered by Scrutiny and I have assured Members that there will be a debate in the Chamber at which all these issues can be raised.’

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He added: ‘I would also like to take the opportunity to assure Members that we are not proposing to nationalise GPs. There will still be the personal service that GPs have given over generations in this Island.

‘It is simply untrue to say that people will not be able to attend a doctor of their choice. We are not trying to impose an NHS model. That has never been the case and we recognise what is valuable to our primary care service in Jersey.’

GPs are currently in negotiations with the government about the extension of their contracts as public-sector employees.

The temporary nationalisation of Jersey’s GPs has allowed for a reduction of around 50% in doctors’ fees during the Covid-19 crisis due to government subsidies.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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