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Health minister blames 'Daily Mail' for GPs' unhappiness

Health minister Ben Bradshaw told an NHS conference today that the media and its negative coverage of the GP contract was to blame for much of the current 'unhappiness' in primary care.

Speaking at a NHS Alliance conference in London, he said: ‘A lot of the unhappiness in primary care is more about how the media has portrayed the profession in light of the contract.

‘But we addressed a very serious issue of recruitment and retention of GPs.

‘What's been difficult for a lot of GPs is that having been a profession that, quite rightly, enjoyed being at the top of the respectable professions has been described as fat cats by the Daily Mail.

‘We can be as positive as we possibly can, but we can't control editorials.'

He said: ‘I'm completely conscious of the fact that the profession feels its been through a difficult time – and yes we have asked you to deliver things that some people might not have been very keen on.' He then defended extended hours saying every survey, including independent ones, consistently showed access was a top issue for patients.

He said: ‘It's a particular issue for blue collar workers who need to take time off work to see their GP.'

The comments were prompted by a question to the minister from Nottingham GP, Dr Marcus Bicknell who asked what was going to be done to recoup the goodwill of GPs.

Speaking at the post-Darzi conference on practice based commissioning, Dr Bicknell said: 'It's been one of the most unpleasant 12 months, we've been vilified by the press. We feel quite under threat because of the advancement of the private sector.

'I'm pleased to say though that PBC has been one of the beacons of light and hope. It's been one of the few areas where my PCT has felt comfortable working with primary care.'

In his speech to the conference, Mr Bradshaw, set out a 'clear statement of intent' for PBC pledging practice based commissioners would have an 'entitlement' to receive their fair share of budgets and more action to engage clinicians in commissioning where much of the focus so far had been on provision of services.

Ben Bradshaw

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