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General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS

13 June 2008

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As GPs from across the UK gathered in London today for the Annual Conference of Local Medical Committees, Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee called on government to value general practice as the cornerstone of the modern NHS. He said:

“The UK system of general practice is the envy of the Western World. It is the cornerstone of the NHS which was formed 60 years ago under the principle of providing care, free to all, from cradle to grave. Nowhere is that more true than in general practice.  

“Since 2004 and the introduction of the new contract, GPs have worked hard to adapt to the significant changes to the way they deliver patient care; they have met the government’s targets but still their hard work goes unrecognised and is under-valued.

“For the past three years, GPs have seen no increase in their practice income which means that they are continuing to deliver a broad range of high-quality services within a constricting budget. This is not practical, nor is it sensible for governments to starve general practice of much needed resources, when it has made a commitment to shift the balance of care out of hospitals and into local communities.

“Investing in general practice can bring great rewards for patient care. It means that family doctors can focus on preventive and anticipatory care, reducing the need for hospitalisation. In real terms this means patients having fewer heart attacks, strokes and reduced blood pressure and for the one million Scots living with a long-term condition, it means their care can be managed locally.

“I am proud of Scotland’s general practice and its ability to deliver real improvements for patients. GPs should be valued by politicians, just as we are trusted by our patients. Instead of trying to implement hair-brained, headline grabbing schemes, they should be talking to us about how we can work together to make further improvements to the service.”