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Ditch GPs? 'It's unworkable'

Government proposals to end general practice in favour of community-based specialists are unworkable and too expensive, according to GPs.

Patient choice tsar Harry Cayton has said the idea of patients seeing 'a different GP for every different treatment' was under long-term consideration in plans to extend patient choice.

But GPs dismissed the idea, arguing doctors would be overwhelmed with patients and referrals would rocket.

Dr Mike Parks, medical secretary of Kent LMC, said patients would 'sequentially consult' doctors until they got the opinion they wanted. He added GPs' role as gatekeeper to health services and the primary source of information on patients was invaluable.

'A system which has managed care and sensible referrals is bound to be more efficient than patients consulting whoever they wish for,' he said.

Somerset LMC medical secretary Dr Harry Yoxall said patients were 'attached to their GP' and would want to keep the current system, despite anecdotal evidence of higher quality of care in France.

Dr Mark Wood, North Devon LMC chair, said the UK could not afford the French model as it takes between 10 and 11 per cent of gross national product whereas NHS spending is around 8 per cent. 'The reason the NHS has survived on 6-7 per cent is because of GPs, who consume a small amount of cash but deal with the majority of contact.'

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