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Independents' Day

Thanks but no thanks, Mr Johnson

Open letter to Alan Johnson

Thank you for this unwise 'offer' you make difficult to refuse. Please consider these objections.

Unnecessary NHS money is for needs, not wants, and most certainly not for the political whims of individuals (Tony Blair - NHS Direct; Gordon Brown - extended hours).

If the PCT ensures GPs see routine patients during the last hour of their daytime contract (8am-6.30pm) there is no real need for later surgeries, apart from dormitory towns where they are often already provided. After 60 years of peace and prosperity in a society with shorter and more flexible working time, I cannot understand this sudden imposition of longer hours.

For decades our patients have accepted that Saturday morning surgeries were only for urgent, not routine, problems. The vast majority are satisfied with this and with our local out-of-hours service where many of us still work on Saturdays and Sundays.

Destabilisation of our county's exemplary out-of-hours services If we are forced into this, many of us, including myself, will stop doing out-of-hours sessions. In other parts of the UK where the Government and PCTs have been destroying traditional general practice, out-of-hours services now lack the core of experienced GPs needed for quality and efficiency. This means an unsatisfactory service, large numbers of complaints and A&E departments overwhelmed with conditions that cost far more to deal with than if they had been seen by a local GP. You must be aware of this.

A waste of taxpayers' money Millions are earmarked for this procurement. It will hardly be surprising if GPs make the best of it by altering our schedules to be available at these times.

How will patients feel when they can't get morning appointments and the only ones left are during dark evenings, possibly not with their GP? And to overlap with out-of-hours services would be inefficient.

An overall worse service for patients - for reasons above.

Breach of promise The Government promised that our contract would not be unilaterally altered unless an emergency situation arose.

Slashed reserves, inadequate infrastructure, record public sector borrowing requirement and trade gap - these are all clear indicators of national weakness and Government incompetence, but a national emergency? I think not.

From Dr John Fitton, Kettering, Northamptonshire

Open letter to Alan Johnson

Thank you for your letter, which I received by email via Wessex LMC this afternoon. Having carefully read through its contents, I firmly reject your Government's call for extended access to general practice.

My main reason for this is that less than three years ago the profession signed nGMS with your Government. The hours of responsibility were written in black and white, namely 8am-6.30pm weekdays. Unilaterally, under the threat of an imposed further contract, you have changed this.

Fortunately, I have been offered a job in Australia commencing in August, and look forward to relocating there with my family.

From Dr Chris Jones, Poole, Dorset

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