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LMCs concerned by idea of specialised GPs for children

16 June 2008

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Preliminary reports from the Darzi Children’s Next Stage Review process raising the possibility of specialised GP care for children were opposed at last week’s Local Medical Committee (LMC) Annual Conference.

East Yorkshire LMC put forward a motion of concern over the suggestion of paediatric care being given to new specialists, arguing that “looking after children is central to general practice and should remain with the GP who can have a holistic view of the whole family”.

A report evaluating care provided by NHS Yorkshire and the Humber – entitled Healthy Ambitions – says child health in the region is among the worst in the country and suggests the introduction of “children’s GPs” to help improve it.

In his speech to delegates, Professor Steve Field (pictured), Chairman of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), spoke out against the proposals.

“This is totally unacceptable,” he said. “We will not stand for it.” He claimed UK GPs conduct approximately 34 million consultations with children and their families each year.

“Even if they wanted to create a new specialist it would take 10 to 15 years to deliver,” Professor Field added. “This is not on and we have said that very strongly.”

GPs at the conference were in agreement, arguing that there was a both a lack of evidence and of proper consultation over these proposals.

“GPs are the best health risk managers in the business,” Professor Field said, warning: “We must not led untrained doctors loose in primary care”.

Elsewhere in his conference address, Professor Field said that primary care policy should be based upon “patient need, rather than political need”.

He warned that the conceptual “Martini healthcare – anywhere, anytime, any place” of polyclinics would not be in the best interests of patients, and that polyclinics should be introduced only where they are needed, and not in each PCT.

He spoke of the differing needs of patients and communities throughout the UK, reminding politicians that surgeries exist in “rural areas as well as Hackney and Tower Hamlets”.

He was extremely positive on the merits of general practice, saying it “remains the jewel in the NHS crown” and is “the glue that holds the NHS together”.