White Paper is chance to prove Lansley right

GP newspaper last enjoyed an exclusive interview with Andrew Lansley in September 2008. Then, of course, he was shadow Conservative health secretary.

This week, Mr Lansley, now coalition government health secretary, chose to give his first, exclusive GP press interview to GP and our website Healthcare Republic, where you can now watch highlights of the 30-minute interview, healthcarerepublic.com/video

Reading our two-page coverage here in GP of Mr Lansley's White Paper plans for the NHS, there is much that will be music to the ears of GPs: a simplified contract, less performance management, greater freedoms and less central control.

At one point in the interview the health secretary even challenged as unnecessarily negative a GP question asking what would happen if consortia fail.

Elsewhere in GP, RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field describes the proposals as the best opportunity for GPs to regain clinical leadership of the NHS for more than 30 years. There is no doubt that change will bring challenges. Consortia need more information on the funding available to them and the BMA is right to flag up the difficulties posed by potentially opening the door further to private firms.

On page 20, shadow Labour health secretary Andy Burnham promises to fight the government over the White Paper. But, let's be clear, the BMA launched its anti-marketisation Look After Our NHS campaign 16 months ago when Labour was in power. It was Labour which pursued the patient choice agenda, created APMS contracts and funded Darzi centres, destabilising practices and sparking GP's own Valuing General Practice campaign.

Mr Lansley, one of the early Valuing General Practice backers, has clearly placed his faith in the profession to deliver an NHS in which GPs have greater autonomy - and responsibility to patients that goes hand in hand with it.

Now is clearly the opportunity for GPs to prove that he was right to do so.

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