DH should be applauded for 2013/14 GMS plans, says Dorrell

Health select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell has backed DH plans to overhaul the GP contract, but believes ministers will listen to BMA concerns.

Stephen Dorrell: DH will listen to BMA over contract concerns
Stephen Dorrell: DH will listen to BMA over contract concerns

Speaking exclusively to GP, the Conservative MP and former health secretary sought to reassure GPs worried about the workload implications of GMS contract proposals for 2013/14.

Asked if the government would listen to BMA concerns about the contract overhaul, he said: 'I am absolutely certain it will.'

But he added: 'Will the government agree with every single thing the BMA says? I am equally certain the answer to that question is no.’

Mr Dorrell said there would not be a ‘GP in the land that would disagree' with cutting out 'unnecessary process' and focusing resources on the delivery of services to patients, which he claims the current DH plans do.

He rejected the description of the contract changes as an imposition because they had been put out to consultation. The changes include scrapping the QOF organisational domain and raising thresholds for 20 indicators for 2012/13 and for all indicators thereafter.

Mr Dorrell said the BMA had not lost its influence with government, but argued that its reputation had been damaged by the decision to take industrial action over pensions last year.

‘I think successive ministers, I have done it myself and others both before and since, have had arguments with the BMA and you wouldn't expect anything different,' he said. 'When it reflects the views of its members it is a powerful and effective voice. Sometimes officers of the BMA lose touch with its members in the same way that elected people in politics and other walks of life lose touch with their priorities as well.’

A BMA spokesman said: ‘Clearly, doctors don’t agree on everything, and the BMA often has to reflect a wide range of opinion.

‘However, we work very hard to keep in touch with members in a range of different ways. While Mr Dorrell may not agree with the BMA’s position on the contract proposals, or our action on pensions, they were both formed in response to the views of doctors. Our submission to the consultation on the contract proposals was based on a survey of GPs.

‘Similarly, we only took action on pensions after a long period of consultation with the profession. More than 80% of BMA members rejected the government’s final offer, with two thirds saying they were prepared to take industrial action. The ballot itself attracted a very high turnout, with a clear majority in favour of industrial action.’

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