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Johnson calls for truce with GPs on eve of BMA poll result

By Steve Nowottny

Health Secretary Alan Johnson today sought to draw a line under the extended hours dispute, as the BMA prepared to publish the results of its GP contract poll.

The poll results – to be published tomorrow morning – are expected to show GPs reluctantly accept the Government's extended hours contract offer, after the GPC issued a statement last month claiming it was the ‘less damaging' option for GPs and patients.

But a series of supplementary questions are expected to show widespread anger at the Government's threat to impose an even worse contract if GPs rejected the offer.

Speaking at an NHS Confederation conference in central London, Mr Johnson told PCT bosses: ‘The world moves on.'

‘The discussion we've been having with the BMA about extended hours is important because better access to primary care is essential,' he said.

‘But extended access is just one aspect of the primary care agenda. It's now time to move forward and focus on the issues which the BMA rightly identify as great priorities. How in primary care we can do more to focus on prevention? How we can improve quality of care and how we can tackle health inequalities?'

While adamant that the Government reforms in primary care such as patient choice and FESC would continue unabated, he reassured GPs that ministers were well aware of the value of traditional general practice.

‘The quality of primary care in the UK… can rightly be described as world class,' he said. ‘And the relationship between GP and patient is its most powerful attribute.'

‘It's entirely wrong for the Government's position to be characterised as somehow seeking to punish the BMA and GPs for the contract introduced in 2004.'

Alan Johnson: claims it is time for peace with GPs Alan Johnson: claims it is time for peace with GPs

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