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General practice should be subject to UK-wide standards, says BMA

6 April 2010

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NHS general practice should involve the same standards in all four countries of the UK, including free personal care, no commercialisation agenda, free prescriptions and a UK-wide Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), according to the British Medical Association’s GPs’ Committee (GPC).

The GPC last week published a 50-point plan for the future of UK general practice, called Fit for the Future. The document outlines recommendations for improvements in a number of areas, including those above.

Recommendations also include improving management, at a national level, of the GP workforce to avoid shortages of GPs in areas that find it difficult to recruit, and increasing the role of general practice in promoting public health.

Commenting on the launch of the document, Dr Laurence Buckman (pictured), Chairman of the GPC, said: “General practice has undergone huge changes in recent years and it continues to evolve. Some of these changes have been beneficial: the increasing range of services provided by GPs, for example, has been good for patients.

“Other changes, such as the growing role of big business in primary care, concern us. We know some aspects of general practice could be improved but we want this to be in a way that benefits patients, doesn’t fragment the NHS and doesn’t demoralise the workforce.”

Further recommendations in the BMA report include replacing PFI projects with a new scheme to support sustainable practice developments, increasing the involvement of GPs in the commissioning of out-of-hours services, and insisting that all contract holders (eg, GP partners or private companies) have a day-to-day involvement in the running of their surgery to ensure a firm commitment to local health services.

Fit for the Future is the first in a series of documents from the GPC that will consider the evolution of general practice in the UK.