Tories promise GPs control over practice opening hours

GPC wants details of Conservative commissioning plans.

The Conservative party says it will solve the extended hours row by turning its back on 'top-down micromanagement' and handing decision making back to GPs.

As well as returning out-of-hours commissioning to GPs, the Conservative Party says it will let GPs decide what works best for them.

Mark Simmonds, MP for Boston and Skegness, Conservative shadow minister for health with responsibility for primary care, said: 'We need to give GPs and the local NHS responsibility for assessing what's best for their area. Some will want to offer extended hours, but other areas may not need to.'

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'Top-down micromanagement of GP services by the government is inconsistent with our determination to re-engage professionals and devolve responsibility and choice closer to patients.

'In my experience, GPs want to respond to the needs of their patients and they want to provide high quality clinical care. How they achieve this will vary from place to place.'

Opening hours would be market-driven, with patients unhappy with surgery times 'free to go elsewhere', the Tories say.

Under a Conservative administration, GPs will resume responsibility for patient care between 6.30pm and 8am. They will commission or provide care on budgets set by the independent board the party has pledged to install to run the NHS.

Mr Simmonds added: 'GPs need the flexibility to integrate resources for extended opening hours and out-of-hours care and to switch resources between the two where this would deliver a better service to patients.'

The Tories publicised their health policy to the profession in The Patient will see you now, Doctor in September 2007 when prime minister Gordon Brown was believed to be about to call a general election.

But Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the GPC, said 'We would need to see a lot more detail before suggesting that some GPs would be happy with this. One concern is whether the resources would be there.'

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

Conservative health policy report

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