The Chair of the RCGP has voiced her surprise at the reaction to a letter submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron offering to “work together” to implement government health reforms.
Dr Clare Gerada’s letter, dated 6 March, has been widely reported as evidence of her ‘backpedaling’ over the college’s public opposition to the controversial Health Bill.
It calls for greater RCGP involvement in discussions concerning the implementation of the bill.
“We feel it is time to restate our similarities rather than continuously focus on our differences,” says the letter.
The RCGP publicly called for the withdrawal of the Health Bill on 3 February 2012.
Dr Laurence Buckman, Chair of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioner’s Committee, described the letter as “odd”.
“It was a strange letter coming from Clare’s previous position. It doesn’t chime well with the rest of her comments,” he told MiP.
“She has had absolutely single-minded hostility for many months and the offer of working together now seems very odd.”
Speaking to MiP, Dr Gerada confirmed the RCGP’s position on the bill has not changed and the college is still outright opposed to the reforms.
“I am very surprised by the reaction to the letter considering it is over a week old,” she said.
“We did write to the Prime Minister to talk to him because whatever happens to the Health Bill, we are the people who have to implement whatever comes out of it.
“It is our job to work with government to work with whatever comes out of the legislation they pass. But that doesn’t mean that we are in favour of the bill.”
The confusion over Dr Gerada’s letter comes as Labour secured an emergency ‘kill the bill’ debate in the House of Commons this afternoon (13 March), thanks to an e-petition submitted by Dr Kailash Chand, which has generated over 170,000 signatures.
Dr Gerada believes the timing may not be “just a coincidence”.
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“Please please stop the infighting and move forward. The only way to improve the standard and level of care for all of us in the UK is to support the Bill in its passage through Parliament a start the next phase of implementation and application” – V Henry, London