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GPs go forth

'They thought he was a medical student'

A disgruntled letter to The Times last year secured Dr Sarah Murray a visit from health minister Andy Burnham to her Devon surgery, and a return invitation to see him at work in the House of Commons.

Dr Murray said she found his visit very helpful: 'He was genuinely interested to find out what life was like on the front line – he didn't want the red carpet treatment.'

She added that most patients were happy to allow Mr Burnham to sit in on their consultations. 'I think most of the patients thought he was a medical student, because I often have trainees in here. He didn't grill them and ask questions like "are waiting times here too long?" He just chatted with them.'

Dr Murray said she relished the opportunity to tell the minister directly about the difficulties GPs were facing and found her trip to the Houses of Parliament insightful. She attended his morning meetings to prepare for health questions that day, which she watched in the Commons in the afternoon.

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