Business leaders want more competition in primary care

Moves to erode GPs' monopoly in primary care have not gone far enough, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In a recent conference speech Dr Neil Bentley, the business lobby group's director of public services, welcomed the government's push towards extended hours and giving greater powers to pharmacists.

But he said that primary care is ‘configured the wrong way, with power in the hands of the producer, not those of the patient'.                                                                                                    

‘We still have a GP service where patient choice is reduced to two options: liking it, or lumping it,' added Dr Bentley.

Patients should be able to choose between continuity of care with a family doctor and the convenience of a walk-in centre, he said, adding that the lifetime contract should be replaced with one that is renewed only if patients are satisfied. 

‘Good doctors have nothing to fear from the things we are proposing,' said Dr Bentley. ‘But those GPs who offer poor services should make room for providers who can do better.'

Despite such calls for change in general practice, the business lobby claims it is not pushing a wholesale privatisation agenda.

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