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Johnson confirms plans for GP shake up

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed he plans a major shake up of GP services in a speech today at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth.

The health secretary told delegates that GP surgery hours should be more suited to patients, and called for pharmacies and other providers to be given greater involvement in primary care.

He said: ‘GP surgeries should be open at times and in locations that suit the patient, not the practice.

‘Pharmacies, sports centres and high street walk-in centres can do much more to provide primary care effectively and conveniently.'

Mr Johnson also stressed the role that GPs could play in tackling health inequalities, and said that ‘more GP surgeries were needed in the most deprived communities'.

Earlier he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he did not want a ‘confrontational approach' with GPs, and was not looking to change the GP contract but said he wanted to work with GPs and the BMA to provide a ‘much more convenient service'.

Speaking in response to the speech, BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘GPs are already working extremely hard to benefit their local populations and a recent government survey showed that well over eight out of ten patients were satisfied with access to their practices.

‘It is ironic that on one hand Mr Johnson talks about clinical engagement and yet when it comes to GP hours he does not approach the BMA. We are always willing to talk about how the service we provide can be improved but obviously increased opening times and services need considerable resources.'

Alan Johnson: claims he does not want confrontational approach to GPs Alan Johnson: claims he does nto want confrontational approach to GPs

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