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Copying letters is 'political nonsense'

The GPC has condemned the Government's new guidelines on copying letters to patients as 'a politically correct lot of nonsense'.

The Department of Health last week published draft guidelines for GPs writing letters to other health care professionals. It told GPs that as a general rule, and where patients agreed, letters written from one health care professional to another should be copied to patients.

But a practice piloting the guidelines in Leeds last year found the annual cost to

primary care would be £15 million.

Another pilot in Oxford that looked at the feasibility of patients accessing letters online through electronic records found GPs spent 10-and-a-half hours screening 38 records for their fitness to view.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden dismissed the initiative as 'socialist politically correct claptrap'.

The pilots found the average cost per GP partner would be £609 a year, which would cover stationery, postage and staff time.

Dr Guy Baker, a GP at the pilot practice in Leeds, said much of the cost was calculated in terms of GPs' time, but practices would be able to

accommodate the workload.

'In terms of time, practices could be reasonably expected to absorb it. It only took seven minutes per partner per week to do things such as get consent. Secretarial time was just over an hour a week,' he added.

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