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Prime Minister Tony Blair
"Far greater flexibility to innovate and change"
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Dr Peter West at York University
"There will be much more local negociation"
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Lord Hunt, Health Minister
"Many GPs wish to adopt the new contracts"
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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
NHS plan 'unworkable', say GPs
GP at work
GPs are angry about the NHS Plan
The government's plans for the NHS are "disappointing and unworkable", say GP leaders in their official response.

The joint statement from both the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of GPs (RCGP) will dash any hopes held by ministers for a smooth implementation of the reforms.

Prime Minister Tony Blair promised that patients would, within a few years, be guaranteed a GP appointment within 48 hours.

He also outlined a system of "annual appraisals" for family doctors.

Both are "unrealistic", say the profession.

RCGP Chairman, Professor Mike Pringle said: "We need more GPs just to cope with current patient demand.

"Not only will there not be enough doctors to do the everyday work, we are being asked to take on extra tasks."

Fixed salaries

However, much of the GPs concern focuses on attempts to rewrite their contracts and employ them on a salaried basis.

Pilots of this type of contract, called Personal Medical Services (PMS), are currently underway in some parts of the country.

Traditionally, GPs have worked on a complex "freelance" system which involves charging fees to the health authority for everything they do, and many are fiercely opposed to losing this "independent contractor status".

Dr Hamish Meldrum, deputy chairman of the BMA's GP committee, said: "We do not believe it is in the patients' or the profession's interests for there to be an unseemly rush into PMS.

"There should not be any coercion, either implicit or explicit, to do so."

However, Health Minister Lord Hunt said: "The PMS contracts are voluntary - but what's significant is that many GPs wish to adopt them."

GPs are not the only doctors who may potentially oppose the NHS Plan.

Hospital consultants are also deeply unhappy about plans to limit the amount of lucrative private work they carry out.

The government wants newly appointed consultants to stay out of the private sector for seven years, and restrictions on other senior doctors.

Health analysts have warned the government that it will be difficult to drive through much of the reform package without cooperation from the medical profession.

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See also:

27 Jul 00 | NHS reform
Blair unveils NHS blueprint
28 Jul 00 | NHS reform
Doctors may fight NHS plan
26 Jul 00 | Health
Pivotal moment for Labour
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