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DH plans local pay deals on access

The Government wants to bring in local deals on extending GP opening hours after its controversial patient experience survey threw up large regional variations, writes Pulse's political correspondent.

Department of Health sources have told Pulse the survey will be used as the basis of a shake-up in pay that will focus on so-called underdoctored areas, which tended to score less well in the survey.

Pollster Mori has been instructed to rework its presentation of the survey findings, originally due out weeks ago – increasing GP fears that ministers aim to spin their view of the need for more flexible opening hours.

The survey has found complex local variations in patient satisfaction with opening hours and access to a GP, according to a senior source at the department.

Patients in many areas of the country were satisfied with access, but ministers are poised to focus on areas where there were concerns.

Incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week put improved access to GPs top of his list of priorities.

In April, former health minister Lord Warner told Pulse the Government was planning local deals and claimed primary care had been 'bedevilled' by national negotiations.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum, who last week indicated the GPC was ready to negotiate on hours, said: 'I hope the delay is not an attempt to manipulate the figures, to make them less favourable about GPs.'

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