Blair hails 'renaissance' and heaps praise on GPs
Tony Blair has hailed the new contract as a 'renaissance in general practice' and thanked GPs for 'their continuing skill, compassion and commitment'.
Writing exclusively for Pulse to mark the start of the GMS contract, the Prime Minister said the drive to increase the number of GPs with a special interest would not undermine generalist GPs.
'Their role in integrating and co-ordinating care is likely to become more, not less, important as the population ages,' he wrote.
Mr Blair threw his weight behind plans unveiled by Health Secretary John Reid to roll out US-style chronic disease management.
Mr Reid told a recent conference that pilot schemes to cut emergency admissions using proactive case management of at-risk elderly patients would be extended and would dramatically cut GP workload.
Mr Blair also reiterated that improving access remained at the heart of his agenda.
'Advanced access techniques plus new services such as walk-in centres show primary care can meet these legitimate expectations,' he said.
GPs gave a mixed response to Mr Blair's comments. Some said they were encouraged to hear the Prime Minister valued GPs, but others said his support was 'the same old claptrap'.
NHS Alliance GMS contract lead Dr David Jenner said there was more evidence for improving chronic disease management than for guaranteed 48-hour access.
'Planned care has to be protected from the demands of unplanned care,' he said.
By Nerys Hairon