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GPC relief as Hutton survives reshuffle

GP negotiators have expressed relief that Health Minister John Hutton has remained in post after last week's ministerial reshuffle.

Mr Hutton, who led the Department of Health negotiations on the GP contract, is the only minister in the department to keep his job after changes that brought in five new faces.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC joint-deputy chair, said it would have been difficult for a new minister to get up to speed with contract issues.

He added: 'There have also been certain commitments about the move to registered lists, delinking Carr-Hill from quality and using practice disease prevalance, and although I hope any new minister would honour those commitments, it makes it easier when it is the same person.'

Dr Brian Patterson, GPC Northern Ireland chair, said he had found new Health Secretary John Reid to be a good listener when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: 'He was not a difficult person to deal with, is a good listener and I was quite impressed.'

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