What GPs want from the next PM

Prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown has already incurred the wrath of GPs with comments about out-of-hours and longer surgery hours. GP asked LMC secretaries what they wanted from the new regime.

Their ideas include depoliticising the NHS and a new health secretary, with many keen to discover whether Brown will be as enthusiastic about the private sector’s role in the NHS as his predecessor. Brown takes over from Blair at the end of next month.

Dr Richard Vautrey, Leeds LMC secretary and GPC negotiator, said that Brown faced a choice between increasing privatisation or ‘building up existing services with NHS rather than private staff. It makes a lot of sense to depoliticise the NHS. Politicians should take the politics out of the health service. It would make GPs’ lives a lot easier. They will still need to set the budgets and provide the funding. But the running of the NHS would be best left to people who have the most knowledge about running the health service and that certainly isn’t politicians.’

Dr Fay Wilson, a medical secretary for five North West London LMCs, said: ‘What can you say? Here you have a man who is clearly a very good chancellor but there is only one direction for him to go.

‘In 1997 there was an air of excitement among GPs, we were on the verge of something big and it was fab. We knew there wasn’t much money, but the health service felt really optimistic.

‘But here we are 10 years on and the tired old Labour government has a feel of defeat about it. I don’t know what Brown can do about it unless it’s something quite radical, and there isn’t the money to do that.’

She thought health secretary Patricia Hewitt had lost the trust of the public.

‘Now we are depressed because there’s no ready answer like New Labour promised to be in 1997. There is a lot of cynicism, but we will have to give Brown a chance,’ she said.

Cleveland LMC secretary John Canning said: ‘I am afraid of the short-term benefits of things like PFI schemes. A GP builds a long-term relationship with his patients where private firms would not have the same designs. I don’t think the public have necessarily realised what these schemes might mean.’

He predicted within six months there would be a new health secretary.

Derbyshire LMC secretary Dr John Grenville said he backed a doctor-run NHS.

‘I think the government should set the agenda but it should not feel responsible for the implementation of its policies.’

What do you think? Comment below or email us at GPletter@haymarket.com

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