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BMA launches fightback over anti-GP spin

By Gareth Iacobucci

The BMA is launching a long-demanded national PR campaign to counter anti-GP spin by the Government.

The Support your Surgery initiative, which has strong echoes of the Save Our Surgeries campaign launched by Pulse in March, will aim to inform patients about growing threats to existing GP services from the Government's controversial primary care reforms.

A giant birthday care containing the signatures of thousands of GPs, will be delivered to 10 Downing Street as an ironic statement on the state of the NHS as it reaches 60.

The BMA would not reveal how much it was spending on the campaign, which will be funded by the GPC defence fund.

As well as the petition, it will include full page ads in national newspapers, which will cost up to £50,000 a time, for around a week early in June.

The BMA said the ads would celebrate what is good about the NHS as well as warn about the threats to its future.

All GP practices will be sent a pack containing posters, leaflets and stickers to help them inform the public about plans to overhaul GP services in their area.

GPs are also being encouraged to hold open days in surgeries, contact MPs and stage protests outside busy locations such as supermarkets.

However, the BMA has decided against employing an outside PR or advertising agency to mastermind the campaign, despite sounding out high profile companies.

Dr Beth McCarron Nash, a GP in Homiton, Devon, who is heading up the campaign, said: ‘This was something we felt was necessary on a national level, because of concerns that GPs have for their patients about the loss continuity of care, and the possible risk that some of these health policies may have on local services.'

Dr Julian Spinks, a GP in Rochester, Kent, said the campaign was ‘definitely a good idea'.

He said: ‘What strikes me when I talk to my patients is how little they know about what's happening. Anything that starts to fight back, and if proactive, not reactive, is a good thing.'

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair, said: ‘The government appears to be moving further away from the personalised care it claims to aspire to. Patients will find it more difficult to see the same GP each time and continuity of care could suffer.

Dr Laurence Buckman: PR fightback Dr Laurence Buckman

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