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GP values not up for sale

GPs could be excused for being a touch confused over the direction of Government health policy, particularly the role of the private sector.

GPs could be excused for being a touch confused over the direction of Government health policy, particularly the role of the private sector.

Last week, the Department of Health finally admitted what doctors have been saying since the outset, that independent sector treatment centres have been a bit of a waste of cash.

The next wave is largely being scrapped, after a host of complaints over gold-plated contracts guaranteeing payments even when patients stayed away.

The move was widely reported in the national press as a dramatic retreat from use of the private sector, but from the perspective of primary care, it doesn't quite feel like that. Only last week, one trust unveiled dramatic plans to franchise its GP practices, bragging that Tesco and Asda were queuing up to take over.

Sacrifice part of global sum

Those plans were this week given the thumbs up by primary care tsar Dr David Colin Thome, while the NHS Confederation now wants GPs to sacrifice part of their global sums so APMS contracts can take over responsibility for home visits.

While politicians obsess over patient choice, most seem to have lost sight of what it is patients actually want. The National Primary Care Research and Development Centre has just offered a reminder, noting that continuity of care remains the most valued aspect of general practice. Let's hope the next Government U-turn on the private sector comes quickly enough to preserve continuity of care intact.

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