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GPs will put their patients first

17th February 2008

Writing in The Telegraph, Richard Horton the editor of The Lancet says “luckily, GPs are wiser than their leaders.�

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With government plans to increase access to GP services to evenings and weekends, the family doctors’ trade union the British Medical Association reckoned on public sympathy and poor political polls for Labour as weapons in forcing health ministers to back down on the proposal.

Instead, after the Health Secretary wrote directly to GPs, the BMA surrendered.

Doctors have wanted the BMA to "exercise some muscle" for some time but the behaviour of its leaders Dr Hamish Meldrum and Dr Laurence Buckman is perplexing and "quite at odds with the idealism and selflessness shown by most GPs".

Rather than offering a public commitment to finding a solution, the union is playing on its member’s worst fears and is out of touch: “a reflex response to the popular anger of some GPs is not the kind of leadership that will serve either patients or doctors well".

What the BMA is opposing is GPs working an average of less than one hour extra each week in return for an attractive financial settlement - ÂŁ158m invested in extra hours, greater financial incentives for GPs and a 1.5% increase in the value of their contract.

In that, the BMA is stopping the NHS from creating a more personalised service and building care around the needs of patients.

But I have confidence that doctors will do what is best for patients and will vote overwhelmingly for this plan.

 

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