DoH rubbishes BMA surgery campaign

Exclusive - Health minister describes GP-led health centres as 'very popular' locally.

Ben Bradshaw
Ben Bradshaw

Health minister Ben Bradshaw has criticised the BMA's Support Your Surgery campaign as 'bizarre and inexplicable'.

Speaking exclusively to GP from a GP-led health centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, in Nottingham, this week, he said: 'The BMA material is bizarre and inexplicable to me. There are no plans for more GP-led health centres and where decisions are led by local doctors and nurses they are generally very popular as you can see here.

'The irony of the BMA campaign is that we are on the threshold of what will be an exciting future for primary care.'

Mr Bradshaw said GPs may be 'miffed' about extended hours.

He described last week's King's Fund report, which raised fears polyclinics could worsen access, increase cost and damage care, as 'very fair'.

He added: 'Bigger health centres can work in certain areas but not others. We are not imposing any anywhere.'

This week has already seen relations between the BMA and government reach a new low.

The Times reported health secretary Alan Johnson saying doctors' leaders who oppose the creation of super-surgeries were echoing their predecessors who likened the establishment of the NHS to Nazi Germany.

However, writing in The Observer last week Mr Johnson vowed that no current GP practices would be closed because of polyclinics.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives said the distance patients would have to travel to see their GP would treble under Labour.

According to figures in NHS London's polyclinic consultation, the average distance to see a GP will rise from half a mile to 1.5 miles in the capital.

The Conservatives also claimed this week that it would cost the government £1.4 billion if no practices were closed to be transferred into polyclinics.

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