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Brown is treating GPs with contempt

If the Government is again found to have been behaving in an illegal manner towards GPs, it does not deserve to hold office.

Our professional ethical framework promises them far more service from GPs than they could ever write a contract to cover. We willingly forgo basic personal human rights set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the benefit of our patients as a marker of our commitment.

Not content with the knowledge we would work unremunerated in a state health crisis, ministers renege on paying our negotiated routine dues in an illegal manner. They try to poison our patients against us, sow dissent between colleagues within the profession with untested 'innovation' and expound a dogma of health efficiency, which in reality is cost-cutting, to cover the defects in their management of the economy.

GPs are experts in spotting trends amid patterns. Is anyone else out there feeling an eerie deja vu of the Conservative fourth term under John Major?

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, Chair, Sefton LMC

Gordon Brown seems to be motivated by a deep-seated hatred of professionals and intellectuals.

We GPs have borne the brunt of that disdain - for two years we have been denied an inflationary pay award. This year, the review body award granted a global sum rise only to deviously claw it back by reducing MPIG correction factor payments by the same amount.

This year we are expected to work longer hours for the same remuneration as last year.

An average-sized practice is looking at perhaps three to four extra consulting hours on top of the contractual 26 hours per week - something like a 13% pay cut.

And now virtually all dispensing doctors stand to lose their dispensing rights, if Government proposals are implemented.

How much more are we prepared to put up with before we withdraw our co-operation?

Only hard talk and actions will cut the mustard, and we must act now.

The first action should be for us collectively to turn our backs on extended hours, to show they may impose a contract change, but that we won't necessarily play along.

By my calculation this means a £44 loss per week after expenses, taxes and deductions - a hit I am prepared to take for the principle as well as for the sake of work-life balance.

This will be only the first skirmish of a war that must be fought if we are to preserve our dignity as well as our role as champions of our patients.

Dr Thomas Bloch, Broadway, Worcestershire

So the Government is to tackle the hidden problem of depression and suicide among GPs with a 'string of measures'.

How immensely caring (and I mean that so sincerely).

And just how have ministers shown their caring side? By:

  • forcing through a contract, informing us it was going to be imposed regardless
  • bringing in the QOF as a means to check if we were underperforming
  • increasing the thresholds needed to achieve QOF points
  • increasing GP consulting hours and funding this by taking QOF points away from other domains
  • criticising us for not 'reinvesting' our profit in our practices (despite us having to increase staff salaries in line with Agenda for Change)
  • promising patients they can have what they want whenever they want it
  • shackling clinical freedom and professional autonomy.

I could go on and on but I won't. And the Government wonders why so many GPs top themselves?

How about reverting to a system where we, as doctors, were allowed to freely care for patients and give them what was possible, not what the Government promised they could have?

Aren't these Government measures a bit like saying: 'I'll shoot you in the head but I'll give you an Elastoplast for the headache?'

Dr John Derounain, Drumin, Moray

I thought the following summed up the profession's feelings about the wisdom of the current premier.

The Israeli doctor said: 'Medicine in my country is so advanced, we can take a kidney out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks.'

The German doctor said: 'That's nothing! In Germany, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.'

The Russian doctor said: 'In my country, medicine is so advanced, we can take half a heart from one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.'

The English doctor, not to be outdone, said: 'Hah! We can take an arsehole out of Scotland, put him in 10 Downing Street and have half the country looking for work within 24 hours.'

Dr Neil Tallant, Christchurch, Dorset

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