GPC attacks 'outrageous' Lancet editorial on inequalities

The GPC has attacked an 'outrageous' editorial in The Lancet that accused negotiators of being responsible for patient deaths by failing to address health inequalities in the 2004 GP contract.

Dr Vautrey: Lancet article is a complete slur on the integrity of negotiators on all sides
Dr Vautrey: Lancet article is a complete slur on the integrity of negotiators on all sides

The editorial slammed the last government’s efforts to tackle health inequalities as an ‘agonising debacle’.

It also blamed doctors for ignoring the ‘clear public and political call’ to act on the issue. ‘Instead, they sought to massively increase their salaries in a new GP contract… one that itself was empty of commitment to reduce inequalities,’ the editorial said.

‘People died because of this professional failure. The negotiators of that GP contract, together with the DoH, share a responsibility for those deaths.’

GPC vice chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s a complete slur on the integrity of negotiators on all sides.’

He said the QOF was recognised around the world for reducing health inequalities and had saved countless lives.

The article discussed a recent report from the House of Commons public accounts committee, which examined Labour’s efforts on health inequalities.

The editorial concluded: ‘To call this period in the DoH's history shameful does not even begin to do justice to the way it let down the millions of people to whom it owed a duty to serve.’

A government source told GP: 'The Labour government neither had the will nor the policies required to tackle health inequalities. In contrast, the coalition government will match our aspiration to reduce inequalities with practical policies that deliver results. That's why we have already set out or intention to ring-fence public health budgets and why we will weight incentives towards improving the health of the poorest, fastest.

'We need an integrated approach to public health. While the NHS has a key role, so does local government and other government departments with a focus on child poverty, education, and the environment. We will publish the details in our public health White Paper soon.'

NHS White Paper 2010 - news and analysis

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