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Tories to seek GP votes
Doctors say they are overworked
Doctors say they are overworked
The Conservatives are to take their health policies to the surgery door by writing to all GPs in England and Wales.

The move came as shadow health secretary Liam Fox said family doctors were at an "all time lowest ebb".

He told BBC News Online GPs felt they were being "abandoned" by the current government.

He said: "Given the wilful distortion of Conservative health policies being put about by the Liberals and Labour Party, I felt it important to communicate directly with the medical profession."

Click here for more details of Conservative health policy.

The mailout follows news last week that the British Medical Association is to ask 36,000 GPs if they would be prepared to resign if the government does not take action to relieve the pressure on primary care.

Doctors have gone from disappointed to disillusioned to angry

Liam Fox,
Shadow health secretary
The Conservatives said they wanted to attract GPs who have taken early retirement back to the NHS, through measures such as pension enhancement.

Dr Fox also said doctors' training should be extended by a year by adding six months experience in both general practice and accident and emergency.

Trainee doctors currently do six months on a surgical and a medical ward after they have finished their five year university-based education.

Those who want to practice as GPs would then, as now, have to complete a year's training in general practice.

The Conservatives would also remove the restrictions on consultants to do whatever private work they wanted - as long as they fulfilled their commitment to the NHS.

The government wants newly qualified consultants to work exclusively for the NHS in the first seven years.

Dr Fox said: "Doctors have gone from disappointed to disillusioned to angry in a really short time."

Patient Guarantees

He repeated the Tory pledge to abolish Labour's waiting list initiative, which he said would save 350m in a year.

Instead of average waiting times, under the Conservatives, there would be a Patient's Guarantee.

Shadow health secretary Liam Fox
Dr Fox said Tory health policy was being distorted
In the term of the first Parliament, Dr Fox pledged to introduce the guarantees to cover cardiac and cancer care, after talks with experts from the medical royal colleges.

Prostate cancer could be one of the first conditions examined.

Dr Fox said: "Politicians might say that everyone with prostatic cancer should be treated in 12 months.

"But clinicians may tell you that some would not deteriorate in 12 months, but some would need to be treated in three to four weeks."

The party's much-hyped pledge to increase the number of people who have private health insurance was again detailed.

Private health insurance

Dr Fox said they hoped to encourage more employers to offer their staff private health insurance, by cutting the taxes which he said penalises employers and their staff.

He said: "You're penalised for having the audacity for wanting to look after your staff."

The Tories want to end the National Insurance contributions paid by employers, which add up to 100m, and the tax on employees as a "benefit in kind", which would cost 368m.

This loss of income would mean that the Treasury would only implement the measure when it could afford to do so.

Dr Fox said that under the Conservatives, the health secretary would take responsibility for public health.

He said more needed to be done to tackle the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and said action was needed to prevent a "second wave" of HIV.

He added that he would consider the use of single-dose measles vaccines in areas where coverage of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which some parents fear is linked to autism, was low.

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