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'Ammunition' for Brown in survey

GPs fear a sting in the tail from the Government after receiving results from the Department of Health's controversial survey on access to surgeries.

Although many received outstanding scores in the survey, they fear the Government will still use it to demand practices stay open longer.There has been widespread apprehension among GPs about the DH probe, which went out to five million patients, attracting two million responses.

The results of four of the survey questions, relating to access, will be used to determine direct enhanced service payments to GPs and, despite many GPs being sworn to secrecy by their PCTs, it is believed many achieved very high results of patient satisfaction.

As Pulse went to press, the Government was still withholding the results of a further question, which asked patients if they would like to see surgery hours extended.

Although not related to the DES payments, and having been branded as a leading question by the BMA, it is feared it could be used as ammunition by Gordon Brown. Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said GPs feared the survey would be used as a Government weapon. 'They have persisted in trying to damage the health service as much as they can,' he said.

Health minister Andy Burnham told Pulse in April the Government was planning to raid MPIG cash to incentivise GPs to have flexible opening. And Dr Barry Moyse, vice-chair of Somerset LMC, said: 'I will be amazed if it does not give the Government the result it needs.'

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