Editorial: Labour makes vital concession for GPs

This edition of GP includes an interview with Labour leader and potential next prime minister Ed Miliband (pages 28 and 30) as his party revealed its 10-year plan for the NHS.

Observing Mr Miliband and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham answering NHS questions at first-hand made for an interesting comparison, with Mr Burnham appearing both far more knowledgeable and more comfortable interacting with people.

Our online coverage from the event included a story headlined 'GPs to run home safety checks for elderly under Labour NHS plan' and reading the comments this generated, it would be fair to say that GPs are unimpressed (Your Views, page 32). The reinstatement of 48-hour access to GP appointments remains controversial.

Elsewhere in this issue, our exclusive poll of GP voter intentions reveals more bad news for Mr Miliband's party, with Labour trailing the Conservatives. It's a far cry from the results of our previous poll, when 36% of GP readers said Labour was the political party most trusted to protect the NHS (GP, 26 January), although the two issues are quite different. There is, however, an important concession in Labour's plan and GPC lobbying may well have brought this about.

There is recognition that GP practices could form integrated care organisations, rather than just hospitals. This could preserve GPs' independent contractor status.

Clinical commissioning should remain the responsibility of the CCG, to ensure it is carried out by people with expert knowledge of local health services and health needs. This would see CCGs working more closely, but not for health and wellbeing boards.

Writing on our website, GPonline, BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand argues Labour needs to work out a lot of detail to reassure the growing tribe of sceptics regarding the NHS.

This is true, but Labour's NHS plan does at least show it is prepared to listen and make a concession over the future of general practice. Although the suspicion remains that it might do better under Mr Burnham's, rather than Mr Miliband's, leadership.

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