Parties split on primary care as election looms

The 6 May election date may have been the worst kept secret in political history but last week Gordon Brown finally confirmed it, firing the starting pistol for the 2010 election.

Last week, shadow Liberal Democrat health secretary Norman Lamb wrote for GP, spelling out his party's vision for general practice. This week, his Tory counterpart Andrew Lansley and Labour's primary care minister Mike O'Brien answer the same seven questions to allow you to compare the views of the main political parties on primary care.

Clear dividing lines on primary care are now emerging, especially between Labour and the Conservatives.

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Mr Lansley's condemnation of Labour plans to shift work from hospitals to primary care is particularly interesting.

He writes: 'Their plans to shift huge volumes of outpatient and A&E cases to primary care are based on flawed analysis of future finances, and heroic assumptions about the capacity of local GPs to take on this work.'

Is he voicing fears many GPs have? Preaching to the converted? Or kowtowing to hospitals in a bid to preserve both their futures and the status quo?

Elsewhere, Labour is softer on primary care privatisation and woollier about incentivising practice-based commissioning.

Also interesting is the cross-party agreement that the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body should remain.

Interesting because there is also cross-party agreement about overruling it.

In the 20 days between now and the election, GP newspaper will be seeking to tease out the differences between the main political parties on primary care.

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