A GP friend (not in Bedford) has just sent this letter to his local MP:
I am bemused that a Government so beset by public outcry concerning withholding pay awards to the Police, economic peril concerning Northern Rock, constitutional irregularities concerning the monies of Mr Abrahams, security lapses concerning HMRC, DVLA & DSC, and the military quagmire that is Afghanistan and Iraq, should have chosen this moment to precipitate a confrontation with a group of 36,000 professionals across the nations of Britain who enjoy the respect and daily personal contact with the vast majority of the electorate.
I speak, of course, of General Practitioners.
Following the recent Government originated survey of two million people, which cost over £11 Million of tax Payers money, I might add, we have discovered that 86% of the population are quite satisfied with the opening hours and availability of GPs. Indeed, I believe that the figure is somewhat higher here in Somerset. In most sectors of industry and commerce this achievement would be warmly applauded and celebrated as an excellent service. Apparently this was not the answer that Mr Brown wished to hear.
In response to his publicly stated pledge for Extended Opening hours, the General Practitioners Committee submitted rational and well-costed proposals. These appear to have rejected out of hand, and the Government is about to impose a draconian new contract upon the profession.
This contract will remove resources from Practices for care of chronic conditions, and instead allocate them to a clinically unnecessary pandering to the desires of a very small minority of the electorate. In pursuing these marginal votes, the Government is quite content to reduce day-time access for the majority of our needing patients – the elderly, children and mothers.
This contract further threatens the very fabric of General Practice, regarded by many as the lynch-pin of the NHS, and the essential bedrock of Continuity of Care, which we know is so valued by our patients. One potential consequence of this sequence of events will inevitably be the glancing over shoulders in the direction of the dentists – the mass privatisation of medical Primary Care is a reality that no longer creeps, yet now hurtles towards us, effective April 1st 2008.
Doubtless there are numerous Labour Marginal MPs whose political future will look very uncertain if Mr Brown’s efforts to dismantle the NHS come to fruition. You may care to mention this to them.
I am most grateful for your attention to this matter. Should you require any further details, please do not hesitate to contact me.