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BMA Scotland issues comment on Labour Party Manifesto

10 April 2007

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Doctors want a key role in developing NHS services to meet tough waiting times targets pledged by the Scottish Labour Party if it should form part of the Scottish Executive in the next parliament. The call came from the British Medical Association (BMA) in response to Labour’s election manifesto, which was launched today (Tuesday 10 April 2007).

Commenting on the document, Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: “The Labour Party has set out some ambitious waiting times targets for Scotland in its manifesto and, should they form the next Scottish Executive, I would urge them to involve doctors in their plans. Any targets must be evidence based and demonstrate a real benefit to patients. Without clinically driven change to meet these targets, they will be difficult to achieve.”

Commenting on plans for General Practice, Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs’ Committee, said: “We are pleased to see, for the first time, a commitment to increase the number of doctors in general practice to help deliver quicker treatment for patients closer to their homes.”

However, GP leaders were less complementary about plans for walk-in centres in commuter hubs and free full health checks for all men aged over 40.

Dr Marshall said: “Creating walk-in centres in commuter hubs is an initiative that will target a section of the population that is generally in good health. The vast majority of patients who regularly visit GPs are those on long-term sickness benefits, the elderly or other groups of society who are perfectly able to visit their own GP during surgery hours. This scheme will use up much-needed resources to provide care for the ‘worried well’.

“GPs already offer ‘health checks’ for patients with chronic disease through the quality framework of the new GP contract. There is no evidence that the proposed free, full health checks will deliver positive outcomes for all patients. There would be merit, however, in using these types of health checks to target men in deprived and disadvantaged communities where we know they would benefit from such interventions.”