Editorial: Labour must give GPs greater independence

Before Christmas we asked you how you rated the performance of the Labour government on the NHS since its election in 1997.

'Poor' or 'very poor' was the verdict of the majority of our 1,000-plus participants.

In fact Labour has seen the majority of its GP support vanish over the past decade. Why?

Well, three years of practice income freezes with the majority of partners suffering pay drops in the past year haven't helped.

But, looking through the answers to the survey question asking what single change you want to see made to primary care, money is far from your major motivation.

A glance through the survey results allows us to compile, unscientifically, the top four requests for new year's resolutions from our Labour government.

1. Give GPs greater independence. Those of you wanting practice-based commissioning demand greater freedoms.

2. Trust those with medical qualifications, reduce the number of NHS managers and decrease political influence.

3. Stop GP bashing.

4. Stop the privatisation of the NHS.

Perhaps it is about time that Gordon Brown's government realised that GPs are the answer to its problems, not the cause.

It should be possible simultaneously for the government to meet two requests.

To grant the wish of those of you looking for consolidation without change. And to give the freedoms demanded by entrepreneurs interested in practice-based commissioning, but hamstrung by PCT management.

Now is the time for action. A previous GP survey found that GP support for Labour was 31 per cent in 2005, but tailed off dramatically to 23 per cent two years later.

Today's results show Labour's popularity at a new low.

The encouraging result of the latest survey is that the majority of you believe that primary care has improved over the past decade.

Now is the time for Labour to reward those on the frontline with the greater autonomy they crave to ensure the NHS is still a success story in 2019.

More opinion online
Read more opinion from the GP editorial team in the editor's blog at www.healthcarerepublic.com/blogs. This is what the team had to say this week

Government's Change4Life programme "The adverts are certainly a step in the right direction. And, if they don't work, health minister Ben Bradshaw has promised to look at regulation of food and drink. So that may be Plan B (or is it C or D by now?)."

Soap operas slated for not showing unhealthy lifestyle consequences "The odd alcohol-induced coma or STI-laden one-night-stand could prevent a few viewers from ending up in A&E or under the mistletoe with their brother's wife."

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