Mr Brown, do you value general practice?

Should prime minister Gordon Brown make a statement valuing general practice?

It was a question GP asked as part of its Valuing General Practice campaign, and 82 per cent of GPs thought he should.

The campaign has received the backing of 3,980 patients, 285 GPs, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, RCGP, BMA, NHS Alliance, National Association of Primary Care, Dispensing Doctors' Association, Family Doctor Association, Medical Women's Federation and think tank www.2020health.org.

We put it together to counter the threats that practices were facing, including the loss of the MPIG, the introduction of polyclinics and freezes on global sums, and launched it on 2 May as London woke up to a new Conservative mayor and Gordon Brown's government suffered Labour's worst election results for 40 years.

What it shows is the extraordinary popularity of the general practice model and the thousands of reasons patients value it .

Perhaps we at GP should have not been so surprised. But as you read patients' reasons for not wanting their surgery to close, you can't help but be moved, particularly by the stories of lives saved. So it can't be much fun that it is your livelihood that the Labour government is so merrily experimenting with.

The DoH response to GP's campaign includes the line: 'It is not and has never been the government's policy to introduce "polyclinics".'

So GPs don't want them, patients don't want them and now the government is disowning the idea. It might be funny, if it weren't so serious.

Ironically, general practice has a wealth of popularity that Labour can only dream of. However, despite being so popular with the public, in the 140 days since we launched our campaign, the climate for general practice has grown colder.

Stories in GP in recent weeks have included practices' fears that they could lose a quarter of their patient list, that patients don't want polyclinics despite PCTs rushing to implement them and that dispensing practices face closure because of changes proposed in a government White Paper about pharmacy location.

Now, more than ever before, GPs need some sort of reassurance from Number 10 that they are valued and not seen as an inconvenient obstacle to be hurdled in the sprint to privatise the NHS.

Mr Brown, GP invites you to make that statement now. Do you value general practice or not? Most of the UK's 42,000 GPs would like an answer.

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