Jeremy Hunt has called for new models of provision for primary care to help close the gap between general practice and acute care.

The health secretary told HSJ he “absolutely” agreed with last month’s remarks by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens that there was “too big a gap between what GPs do and what hospital doctors do”.

Closing the gap could involve consultants working in general practice as part of a multidisciplinary team, or “primary care delivered by acute trusts in some areas”, he argued.

The role of the DH was to agree outcomes rather than prescribe models of care, Mr Hunt said.

He also endorsed consultations carried out using the internet phone system Skype. These could allow consultants to speak to patients during GP appointments. “The big advantage is you improve the knowledge and expertise of the GP as well as the patient.”

Mr Hunt attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband for his pledge to guarantee GP appointments for all within 48 hours or within a day for those most in need.

Mr Hunt said: “What’s cynical about what Ed Miliband promised is it will cost many, many times more than the money he was prepared to put on the table.”

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