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Johnson to write to every GP

4th February 2008

The Health Secretary will write to all GPs in the country to urge them to say yes to a plan to extend their working hours.

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Alan Johnson wants family doctors to agree to open surgeries on evenings and weekends, in a bid to offer patients more visiting times.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the GPs' union, has so far been able to reach an agreement with the government. The BMA has not sanctioned the new deal, saying that it is not flexible enough and could damage "traditional general practice".

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said the government were concerned "that the current leadership of the BMA don't really speak for the profession at large."

He added that they were worried that the government's plan was misrepresented by the BMA and the negotiations had been affected as a result.

The government is keen to see GPs offer longer opening times to their patients. They have made doctors an offer which equates to extended opening of three hours per week (for an average surgery).

All GPs in England will be able to vote on the issue. However, the government has warned that if the deal is rejected, "tougher" settlements will be imposed.

Mr Johnson is effectively bypassing the BMA by sending out a letter to every family doctor in the country.

The Health Secretary states in his letter that the new plans: "do not in any way reduce the substantial existing investment in these areas, and this sort of care is at the very heart of general practice".

 




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