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Medical reporting: BMA will not enter into discussions

The official opposition, professional bodies and public health experts have pledged support to the Pulse campaign to rescue incentives for child vaccination.

They have added their voices to a growing chorus of GPs arguing that changes to uptake

calculations are penalising practices and endangering the immunisation programme.

Andrew Lansley, shadow Health Secretary and Conservative MP for South Cambridge-shire, said: 'We support this campaign. It is wrong to penalise practices that are achieving high levels of uptake. The QOF should reflect outcomes across vaccinations for children.'

The Liberal Democrats also expressed concern over the rule change. Steve Webb, their health spokesperson, said: 'It is very worrying GPs are being forced to consider opting out. The Government must do everything in its power to ensure children continue to get the vaccinations they need.'

The Small Practices Association ­ whose members' payments are especially vulnerable to small fluctuations in uptake ­ was the first professional body to pledge support.

Dr Michael Taylor, chair of the association, said the 'worsening of the current situation' was worrying and it would be 'fair' to reverse the rule change. 'The area of exception reporting is still a live issue,' he added.

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said: 'We certainly support the campaign to change the current method of payment, which is unfair to GPs where uptake of MMR is poor in spite of their best efforts.'

The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists offered its support to GPs by strongly backing the campaign.

'They [practice managers] are extremely concerned. GPs are very unhappy about doing the same work and getting paid half for it,' a spokesperson said.

Support is growing among public health experts.

Professor Martin Vessey, professor of public health and primary care at the University of Oxford, said: 'We must avoid any policy changes that are likely to lead to a reduction in childhood vaccination.'

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