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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Labour planning to abolish practices' registered lists

BMA's election rallying call

The BMA is demanding the next Government put GPs at the heart of primary care.

In a 'doctors' manifesto' released ahead of the general election it urges all parties to 'recognise the value of GPs as being at the centre of primary care'. The association also calls for a better deal for GPs working in community hospitals.

Other measures the BMA wants include round-the-clock childcare for NHS workers, protection for NHS pensions and protection for academic medicine.

James Johnson, BMA chair, said: 'The NHS is not as good as it could be. If goals such as shortening waiting times and making care more patient centred are to become reality, politicians have to face a number of challenges.'

Retirement at 65 unpopular

Changes to the NHS pension scheme will cause an 'exodus' of doctors from the NHS, starting as early as next year, the BMA is warning.

James Johnson, BMA chair, said a survey had shown the changes – which include increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 – were unpopular with 75 per cent of GPs.

'GPs absolutely don't want to move to the pension proposed in the consultation,' he said.

The consultation on changes to the NHS pension closes on April 11. The new scheme would come into force in 2013.

Big improvement in Ca care

Cancer services have improved significantly since publication of the NHS cancer plan, the National Audit Office reports.

Some 99.2 per cent of patients with suspected cancer are now seen within two weeks of urgent referral from a GP, while mortality rates in the under-75s are on target to fall by 20 per cent by 2010.

The report highlighted success in extending breast screening, persuading more people to quit smoking and speeding up access to diagnosis and treatment.

Aspirin cuts stroke in women

Low-dose aspirin reduces women's risk of stroke by 17 per cent, the Women's Health Study reports.

The major trial of 40,000 healthy women found aspirin reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events by 9 per cent overall and by 26 per cent in women over the age of 65.

But the study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, found aspirin did not prevent first heart attacks or death from cardiovascular disease.

Script charges rise 10p

Prescription charges will rise 10p to £6.50 from April. Prescription prepayment certificates will increase by 50p to £33.90 for a four-month certificate, and by £1.40 to £93.20 for a

12-month certificate.

The Government said the rise was 'modest' and prescription increases had been restricted to 10p, well below the level of inflation, for the seventh consecutive year.

Suicide verdict on GP

The suicide of a GP who had been under investigation by his PCT for a high referral rate 'should clearly not have happened', the coroner investigating his death has concluded.

Dr Stephen Farley, a GP in Ibstock, Leicestershire, was found hanged in January 2004.

His colleagues said his referrals were higher because he was a popular GP who attracted more chronically ill patients

North Leicestershire coroner Trevor Kirkman recorded a verdict of suicide at Loughborough magistrates court last week.

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