Tories condemn dual registration

GP access is not a problem and dual registration is 'barking mad', according to the shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Speaking to the annual conference of the Dispensing Doctors' Association (DDA) in Bristol this month, Conservative front bencher Mr Lansley tore into government policy.

Health minister Lord Ara Darzi's interim report 'Our NHS, Our Future', published in October, urged half of practices to open extended hours.

Although not directly mentioning dual registration, the report calls for GP engagement with those who 'find it hard to find time to see a GP'.

However, Mr Lansley told the conference: 'Access to GPs is not a major problem.'

He added that the government had agreed and negotiated the GMS contract and it was 'a bit rich' for primary care organisations (PCOs) not to commission services and then blame GPs for not opening for extended hours.

Mr Lansley suggested that the only people who would benefit from dual registration were MPs. He described the idea as 'barking mad' and said most patients only needed to access GPs in one location.

He felt Darzi's interim review, which also called for 100 new GP practices and 150 GP-run super-surgeries, had resulted in PCTs starting to plan for polyclinics.

Mr Lansley strongly opposed the idea of supermarkets housing practices and said that in his constituency of Cambridge South his local supermarket was farther away from his constituents than the GP practices.

Mr Lansley spelt out Conservative policy to make GPs responsible for out-of-hours care: 'The current budget for out-of-hours per doctor is £20,000 rather than the initial £6,000 in the GMS contract'.

The Conservatives' idea is that GPs become responsible once more for commissioning out-of-hours care.

Mr Lansley defended GP pay. 'I think GPs are very senior public service professionals and should be paid as such.'

Mr Lansley's speech was hailed as well-received and 'the best political speech heard at a DDA conference' by Dr Allan Tennant, the organisation's vice chairman.

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