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At the heart of general practice since 1960

60-second interview with Dr Michael Taylor, a polyclinic opponent

Dr Michael Taylor is a GP in Heywood, Lancashire, and chair of the Family Doctors’ Association, formerly the Small Practices’ Association. It has been at the forefront of opposition to polyclinics and the private provision of services.

Dr Michael Taylor is a GP in Heywood, Lancashire, and chair of the Family Doctors' Association, formerly the Small Practices' Association. It has been at the forefront of opposition to polyclinics and the private provision of services.

Would you consider working in a polyclinic?

I have already done so. It was an American-run polyclinic in the Middle East, and it was awful.

Why was it awful?

It was OK when it looked after the young, healthy, fit workforce, but when the law changed and it had to look after families, it was totally inadequate.

It was that experience that made me, on my return to the UK, go into a small practice.

What do GPs get out of the Family Doctors' Association?

They get a national brand, which is important in the current climate. They get help and support.

What is the single biggest issue facing the association at the moment?

The top priority at the moment is to increase our membership, which is currently about 1,200 practices.

Why should patients value their family doctor?

This is really the best question of all. They should value their family doctor because we are interested in them as people. We treat people who have illnesses, rather than the diseases people have.

And do you think patients do value their family doctor at the moment?

Yes I do, which is maybe different from most people.

What benefits, if any, can you see in private providers coming in to general practice?

An element of competition. The Government has broken the GP monopoly of providing GP services, so that's the benefit to the patient, ultimately.

How do you see private provision of general practice developing over the next 10 years?

I think there will be a slow increase.

If you were health secretary for a day, what would be your first act?

I think I would enable GPs to absorb community services. District nurses, health visiting, everything in primary care would become part of the general practice.

How do you think the recent contract negotiations were handled?

The BMA handled them impeccably. I think it was under great pressure from both my general practice colleagues and the Government.

On the headline issue, the negotiators were of course defeated but in the poll of what GPs thought, 98% said the Government had handled it badly.

I'm certain the Government will take more notice of Laurence and his negotiators in the future than they did.

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