Letters, calls and emails: Mr Brown must drop these pointless innovations

An open letter to Gordon Brown:

Having listened to you talking about the NHS on the Today Programme, I was disappointed to hear that you plan to continue the disastrous policies of Tony Blair's government.

Walk-in centres, for instance, cater for the convenience of commuters but duplicate GPs' efforts without knowledge of the patient's history.

NHS Direct has been an abject failure and, because most patients are told to ring the out-of-hours doctor or their GP, is also duplicating work.

What a waste of manpower and NHS money, which could be better spent supporting existing out-of-hours co-operatives which have a 10-year track record of success.

Some of this wasted money could help surgeries to provide evening and weekend appointments so that commuters will not need walk-in centres.

GPs and their staff are already working 10- or 11-hour days. If they are to provide evening appointments as well, something else will have to go, or the government will have to fund the extra staff and overheads needed.

Two years ago I wrote to my PCT to offer a Saturday-morning surgery for commuters as we have many in our practice area. I was told that this could not be funded because a need for this service had not been demonstrated.

In 1996 we opened an out-of-hours co-operative in our surgery building, combining the on-call duties of five local practices. This was incredibly successful and received plaudits from patients, who appreciated a local service run by familiar people. It was closed down by the PCT when the new contract came into force and patients now have to travel into the centre of Leeds.

As for Choose and Book, I wonder how long you would be in the job if the public realised how much NHS money had been wasted on this. Our practice made an effort to use the system last year, but in all that time only one of my patients wanted to be referred outside our local trust.

Patients do not want to go to a hospital miles away to see a consultant about whom their GP knows nothing. Time and again they ask us to recommend the best person to see and our local knowledge is of the utmost importance.

I don't know how well you have done your homework Mr Brown but I have been talking to my patients for the past 28 years and I know what they want: they want to see a doctor they know in a surgery close to their home. They want time to explain their problem and be listened to. They want to be seen within a day or two and when they need to go to hospital, they do not want to wait several weeks for an appointment.

We are working flat out to help our patients in between all the paperwork and target chasing, and our reception staff are doing a magnificent job for meagre salaries.

Help us to improve the GP service by putting NHS money into a system that has stood the test of time instead of untested and unproven experiments which duplicate what we are already doing.

You might then be able to claim to have the best primary care service in the world.

And who knows; you might even stay around after the next election.

Dr Martin Islip, Horsforth, Leeds.

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