GPC seeks to use patient views to bolster DoH talks

The BMA is seeking patients' views on general practice so it can use real data to bolster its discussions with the government, the GPC has said.

Dr Buckman thinks the government will be interested in the results of a consultation into patients' views (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Buckman thinks the government will be interested in the results of a consultation into patients' views (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

A consultation launched last week will ask the public, patient groups, health charities and the medical profession about their priorities for general practice. The BMA hopes 'Striking a balance: what matters most in general practice' will encourage debate on what the long-term strategy for general practice should be.

The consultation covers four key areas: access to GPs, out-of-hours care provision, continuity of care, and the 'evolving practice team', which includes issues such as the suitability of the partnership model and the preferred practice size.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'It's clear that things are said about what patients believe, but nobody actually asks patients themselves.

'What we are trying to do before the government gets going is ask as many patients groups as we can about what their priorities are.'

Dr Buckman said the findings would 'most definitely' be used as leverage when the BMA talks with the government.

He said: 'I think the government will be interested in the results, but whether it uses the results is another matter.'

Dr Buckman said the government appeared open to discussions about targets in primary care and GP access. It has already outlined its opposition to targets and it 'seems to be less bothered about access', than the previous administration, he said.

'The new government is open to discussing all sorts of things at the moment, but I'm not sure how much longer that will continue,' Dr Buckman said.

A DoH spokeswoman said the government believes GP opening hours should be determined locally. 'It is the government's responsibility to set the outcomes that need to be achieved and empower GPs and other clinicians on how to best to achieve them,' she said.

The government is looking to remove targets that have 'no clinical justification' at the 'earliest available opportunity', she added.

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