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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Standing still not an option

Though much of the Government's Community Health White Paper has been trailed, the full weight of its proposals still comes as a sobering prospect for GPs.

Though much of the Government's Community Health White Paper has been trailed, the full weight of its proposals still comes as a sobering prospect for GPs.

An open door to private providers. 'Life checks' for the worried well. 'Open, but full' list status scrapped.

The overarching message is clear. Standing still is not an option.

Practices must open longer and offer more. They must expand their boundaries and horizons. If they don't, they will wither and die. Or rather, they will be starved of resources and killed off.

Devil in the detail

For large, well-funded practices in spacious, modern premises there may be opportunities. Much will depend on the detail ­ which the White Paper is lacking ­ but incentives to take on more patients and hospital work are welcome.

For GPs in smaller practices or inadequate premises and struggling to cope there is little to cheer. They face the prospect of multinational firms moving in, building all-singing, all-dancing primary care centres ­ probably with NHS funding previously denied to GPs ­ and open to all patients.

And if they try to compete, they will find the dice loaded against them.

No GP is against efforts to improve services and all will support the goal of enhancing the status of primary care. But what GPs ask for is proper recognition of what they do now, meaningful support to achieve their goals and, above all, fairness.

The Government's recent attitude to GPs gives cause for concern on all of these counts.

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