GP Surgeries Ė MPís backing for GPs (February 5th 2008)
North Thanetís MP, Roger Gale, has expressed his support for General Practitioners in their discussions with Health Secretary Alan Johnson over surgery hours.
"The present GP contract, which has certainly led to a reduction in evening and weekend services, was introduced by this Government in 2004" says Roger Gale.
"It has become clear that the Government got its calculations horribly wrong and is now trying to claw back some of the increase in GPs pay package which has risen from £81,566 in 2003-2004 to around £111,971 in 2005-2006. Their plan appears to be to remove £158 million from the Access and Choice and Booking Enhanced services scheme and to reallocate that money to extended opening - in other words they want to rob the Peter scheme that they themselves set up in order to return to the Paul scheme that they now tell us everyone wanted after all!
In fact the Secretary of State's proposals - which he is threatening to impose upon doctors - is likely to lead to fewer daytime appointments to the disadvantage of the elderly and those who are off work sick. It may well lead to a reduction in the treatments that available at local surgeries and to more healthcare at a distance from people's homes.
Of course it is a fact that those of us working anti-social hours want GP surgeries to open to suit our personal needs but it must be left to the individual practices to determine what local demand, based upon their patient profile, really is. And if the Secretary of State now wants to re-run the contract he is going to have to take into account that doctors` surgeries don't just occupy the time of the doctors - they have to have practice nurses and reception staff available as well and all of those people have to be paid
At the end of the day the proposed cuts - for that is what they are - are likely to both damage patient care and actually diminish access. Instead of patients being able to see the person that they regard as their own doctor they are likely to have to see, as with the present out-of-hours service, whoever happens to be on duty at the time. For emergency response that may be acceptable. For general medical needs it is not what I believe that my constituents want."