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Primary care tsar attacks BMA 'hysteria' over polyclinics

By Nigel Praities

The BMA is encouraging GP ‘hysteria' in its stance on polyclinics the primary care tsar has claimed in an extraordinary public attack on the body's national PR campaign.

In front of an audience of GPs and deputy chair of the GPC, Dr Richard Vautrey, Dr David Colin-Thome said he despaired over the rhetoric used by the BMA and that it was damaging the profession.

‘We GPs, encouraged by our union, may wish to be in victim mode, but the Department of Health wants to keep general practice central to the health service, but it has to be of a high quality.

‘The BMA is saying this is the end of the world as we know it. It seems the job of the BMA is to oppose any Government policy,' he said.

He added that the tenor debate over polyclinics was ‘verging on hysteria' and specifically criticised the BMA's national advertising campaign as unhelpful.

‘Sometimes we overstress our anxieties, which as a profession, does us a disservice. If there are locals issues then they need to be dealt with but a national campaign is over the top.

‘There is a whole load of nonsense going on at the moment,' he added.

The comments, made at the Primary Care 2008 conference in Birmingham, were refuted by Dr Vautrey. He countered the criticism by saying while the government said there was no ‘one size fits all' approach; the reality was that polyclinics were forcibly opened in areas that had no need for them.

Dr Vautrey stressed GPs had to work together to fight off the challenge of the private sector: ‘We risk doing to ourselves what we fear others will do to us, in particular if we don't grow our partnerships and plan for the future,' he said.

He also warned GPs would face further cuts in funding in future contract negotiations, with another battle looming over MPIG funding and increased QOF thresholds.

Dr Raj Kottyal, a GP in Wolverhampton who attended the meeting, said Dr Colin-Thome's words over polyclinics were a ‘big worry'.

‘He doesn't seem to have any idea about what effect [polyclinics] are going to have. These big corporate entities are going to come in and take the funds and dilute the pot,' he said.

Dr David Colin-Thome: primary care tsar claims GPs are being made victims by the BMA Dr David Colin-Thome

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