Exclusive: Labour says GP contract changes risk destabilising primary care

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said the GP contract proposals risk destabilising primary care and that the government made a 'big mistake' in the way it handled negotiations.

Speaking exclusively to GPonline.com, this week, Mr Burnham said the DH’s plans for the GMS contract in 2013/14 were unrealistic and could lead to redundancies in primary care.

The former health secretary, who believes Labour can win the next general election, said: ‘The range of what is being asked of people here could severely test some practices’ ability to deliver.

‘I am a bit worried that we will see redundancies in primary care, whether practices will be able to hold onto all of their staff.

‘It would be a disaster now if next year we see primary care destabilised and general practice destabilised along with the rest of the NHS.’

On the negotiations between the DH and the GPC, which broke down in October, he said: ‘I think the government has taken a big risk with the way that it has handled these negotiations. I think it made a big mistake.

‘When you don’t properly listen to the profession, that is when government is at its worst and that is when mistakes are made.’

When Mr Burnham was asked if the proposals risk destabilising primary care, he said: ‘I do. I can remember when we were looking at QOF and the things that we would be asking of people. It had to be done carefully. We had to be strict at times, if you were adding something in, you had to take something out.

Inside Commissioning blog: Labour shadow health minister focusing on NHS reform debate

* A full interview with Mr Burnham will appear in the next issue of GP, dated 7 January.

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