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BMA urges caution over Tory manifesto plans for GP services

14 April 2010

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The Tory manifesto commitments to GP services have struck a cautious chord with a leading medical organisation.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed plans to widen access to local doctors, but warned it was likely to be a luxury the UK could not afford.

The manifesto set out plans to guarantee access to GPs and ensure a 12-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week service.

It also criticised the current out-of-hours system and pointed out that a quarter of practices are closed after 6.30pm on weekdays.

Dr Hamish Meldrum (pictured), Chairman of the BMA Council, said: “Obviously, as with all the parties’ plans, the BMA will wish to study them closely to see how they compare to the proposals in our own manifesto.

“The idea of being able to see a GP from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week is bound to be popular, and patients deserve good access to GP services, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of the quality of a patient’s overall care, which is at risk if services become fragmented. It’s also a luxury that we may not be able to afford in these financially straightened times.”

He added that the NHS was facing significant financial pressures and so it was vital that all new policies were evidence-based and cost-effective.

He said: “It is for this reason that all the political parties need to move away from a market model for the NHS in England, as there are some shocking examples of NHS money being wasted through an apparent obsession with the private provision of NHS care.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

The British Medical Association

“As a GP practice, there is a lot to consider in this statement, not least how the hours would be staffed. It would involve a change in contracts, especially for those GPs and staff who work PM hours. It is a statement at present without any substance to back it up, in terms of how this will be financed and the logistics and impacts from a surgery perspective” – Simon Beer, Leeds

Related blog: Election fever has led to manifesto mania – someone call a doctor