Govt 'damaged' relationship with GPs over hours row

Doctors agree to open for 3 more hours
Doctors agree to open for 3 more hours

The government has harmed its relationship with the medical profession in the debate over extended GP opening hours, doctors have claimed.

Nearly every GP (98 per cent) polled by the British Medical Association (BMA) said the way in which the government had negotiated the new contracts was unacceptable and 96 per cent were not happy with any of the options put forward by ministers.

However, 92 per cent have now voted to accept the proposals put forward by the health secretary in December, out of concern that the government will impose a worse deal if they refuse.

Of the 27,000 GPs responding to the BMA poll, the overwhelming majority conceded to accept option A, which requires the average practice to open for an additional three hours a week at an estimated cost of £18,000, over option B.

But as a result of the drawn-out debate, 97 per cent of family doctors now say they have no confidence in the government's handling of the NHS.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GP committee, said the government "has a long way to go if it wants to repair the damage its past behaviour has caused".

He continued: "If there is a clear message to come out of this it is that we cannot continue in this way. We want the NHS to work properly as much as everyone else, we want patients to be happy with the service they get from GPs, but it will only work if GPs feel they can trust the government not to bully and micromanage them all the time."

The BMA claims a majority of GPs are willing to provide extended hours, which the government argues are necessary to meet the needs of people that work during the day.

But Dr Buckman warned doctors feel "railroaded into an unrealistic vision of extended hours".

Doctors warn the government's proposals could compromise clinical care and could provide less flexibility to patients than is desirable.


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