A row has broken out between the government and GPs over plans to introduce polyclinics across England.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw (pictured) accused the British Medical Association (BMA) of “misleading and mendacious” behaviour in amassing 1.2 million signatories to a petition calling for local GP surgeries to be protected.
The doctors’ body countered by challenging the government to forward any instances of inaccuracies or pressurising on patients to back the campaign.
According to the union, GP practices will close as new “supersurgeries”, housing GPs and other services are created.
Its petition also calls on ministers to stop encouraging use of private firms to deliver primary care – something the BMA calls “creeping commercialisation”.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, says: “If the government won’t listen to you, their doctors, then surely it will listen to the 1.2 million men and women who call for a halt to the plans to promote the use of commercial companies in general practice.
“Voters don’t want funding to move from GP practices to commercial companies who are accountable primarily to shareholders rather than patients. They want to be treated as patients, not customers.
In response, health minister Ben Bradshaw, said: “If I were to run a campaign making false claims that something terrible was about to happen, a lot of people would sign my petition too.”
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“It will be catastrophic. You only have to look at the American model and you can see it is a disaster with corruption and all sorts of money-making schemes. Patients will defiantly suffer as profits of companies will be a priority for the stake holder. The second issue is we should be more looking after all at the European model it won’t be long before we join the European monitory system and politically as well as ethically it would be more accurate to look at e.g. France or Holland how they run things rather than Americanise things. What is it with this government I can only see corruption. I have worked for the NHS for 40 years with my eyes wide open” – H Williams, Epsom
“The angry accusation is because the NEW LABOUR never expected this massive response from the patients. Although they will continue to work on their own agenda of privatisation by stealth such an ovewhelming response has startled them momentarily at least” – Najam Bangash, location withheld