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Unjustified vilification

Another week, another media bashing for greedy, work-shy GPs.

It's hard to think of another profession that has come under such sustained vilification with so little justification.

Even city bankers, who recently trousered billions in bonuses, were praised in some quarters.

All GPs have done is work to the demands of their contract and take home the rewards the Government agreed they deserved.

The consistency and frequency of the stories, with new Labour darling Polly Toynbee this week delivering her own diatribe, has all the hallmarks of a Labour spin campaign.

'GPs are the most popular public servants,' the memo ordering the assault may well have said, 'but we want to freeze their pay, make them open all hours and get replaced by private firms. So let's portray them as money-grabbing and uncaring.' A two-pronged attack.

And to co-ordinate with the media attack, ministers are coming up with new ways to demoralise GPs. An end to exception reporting, hard-line QOF checks and talk of a pay cap to add to the pensions cap already implemented.

The result is an atmosphere unmatched since 2002, when GPs threatened to resign if they did not get a new contract.

Similar talk of industrial action is now resurfacing, with the BMA this week hardening its formerly moderate tone.

Choose and Book is the obvious target. Encapsulating as it does all that is misguided with Labour's NHS policies, it would be an entirely appropriate one.

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