Letters, calls and emails: Worry about climate and war, not GPs

Dear Editor

I read in the Daily Telegraph that Gordon Brown 'could change GPs' contracts to encourage them to tailor opening hours more to busy people'.

Apparently he feels that he should 'show people that the health service is going to move into the modern era and is there for people when they need it'. We then learn that GPs earn on average £106,000 per year.

Mr Brown also wants more walk-in health centres near places of work, and pharmacies providing 'routine services' such as BP tests.

One idea 'that will prove highly unpopular with the BMA is to scrap the MPIG'. It appears that Mr Brown is 'considering how to release cash to provide greater incentives... for GPs to open outside normal hours'.

It should be amazing that - at a time when the country is fighting at least two wars, life is overshadowed by an ever-present terrorist threat, there are serious concerns about the environment and the UK is assimilating unprecedented numbers of new citizens - the best way a senior politician can think of to impress voters is to tinker with GPs and their practices.

Sadly it isn't.

As 'a source close to the chancellor' put it, 'as Gordon has gone round the countryside what is consistently raised is the convenience of access to healthcare'.

General practice is so old fashioned that it has developed a successful national programme of preventive care as demonstrated by the quality framework.

However, changes will be made so that really needy folk who are too busy to take time off work will be able to see doctors at nights or weekends, perhaps on the way back from the pub or the match.

GPs are overpaid. They clearly don't deserve any kind of income guarantee.

We know what we earn. For all his financial rectitude the chancellor has got his sums wrong. Either we negotiated a contract with the government in 2003 or we all suffer from a fixed mass delusion.

We must turn this popular perception of unmet demand for medical attention to our advantage.

Dr Lewis Miller, Belfast.

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