BMA insists the NHS Plan will need up to 10,000 more GPs

23 Nov 00
The British Medical Association came under fire from the prime minister's office and NHS managers this week as doctors attacked the government's health service modernisation programme.

24 November 2000

The BMA's chairman, Ian Bogle, claimed the NHS Plan's guarantee that all patients will see a GP within 48 hours by 2004 was unworkable. Although the Plan pledges to recruit another 2,000 family doctors by that time, Dr Bogle claimed retirements would mean a net increase of fewer than 1,000. An extra 10,000 GPs would be needed to fulfil the 48-hour promise.

But the prime minister's official spokesman, Alastair Campbell, said the BMA was attempting to put pressure on the Doctors' and Dentists' Pay Review Body to increase GPs' salaries.

The NHS Confederation said Dr Bogle had 'missed the point' of the NHS Plan. Its policy director, Nigel Edwards, said: 'Simply providing more of the same will not address the problems of the NHS. We need a much better idea of what primary care will look like in the future before we can predict how many GPs we may need.'

The attack coincided with the extension of the 24-hour nurse-led helpline, NHS Direct, to the whole of England. Many GPs are worried the helpline will reduce their income and status by becoming patients' first port of call.

And John Chisholm, the BMA GPs' committee chair, said that GPs may be balloted on a proposal to abandon their traditional out-of-hours responsibility for patients, a clear indication that the BMA is prepared to take on the government if its pay demands are not met.


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