Jeremy HuntThe NHS needs to provide "proper out-of-hospital care" to be sustainable in future, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in The Daily Telegraph as he stepped up efforts to persuade doctors to accept sweeping reforms to the way they work.

He called for GPs to strengthen their relationship with patients in their care, including taking a greater responsibility for vulnerable people on their lists.
Mr Hunt also outlined plans for a seven-day NHS, with hospital patients receiving the same quality of care at the weekend. 

The Health Secretary used an interview with the Sunday Times to set out plans for a hit squad of senior doctors who could be sent in to take over failing hospitals and to stress the need for the NHS to embrace technology in order to tackle inefficiency. 

Asked if the NHS was sustainable in its present form, Mr Hunt told the newspaper: "I think it's sustainable in the medium term if we are prepared to take some difficult decisions about how we deliver healthcare. But we are up for those decisions." 

He added: "If we're really going to be sustainable we need to have proper out-of-hospital care."  This meant family doctors had to "go back to the days" when they checked on vulnerable patients in their area. 

"It may not be the GP personally doing every single home visit, but I think we need to rediscover and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and that sense of accountability and responsibility for the most vulnerable people on GPs' lists," he said.

Mr Hunt said he would use "every drop of his blood" to turn around failing hospitals and insisted that the NHS could survive if it reformed.

He said: "My own view is that over the next 10 years, if we embrace technology, if we put a real effort into transforming out-of-hospital care, then for the next 10 years the NHS can be sustainable - but we have to do this properly."