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Buckman: Government plans could pose ‘major threat’ to traditional general practice

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government's overhaul of the NHS could present a ‘major threat' to the current model of general practice, and open the door for mass privatisation, the GPC has warned.

In a letter to GP members, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman acknowledged that the reforms laid out in last week's White Paper were a ‘potentially huge opportunity' for GPs if implemented effectively.

But he warned that health secretary Andrew Lansley's radical proposals could threaten traditional general practice if GPs were not given the tools and support they need to take on the huge task of commissioning the majority of NHS services, and admitted ‘serious concerns' from some GPs about the scale of the plans.

Dr Buckman's letter outlined the GPC's wish for NHS providers to remain the ‘providers of choice', and said GPs had to be mindful of the need to preserve relationships with consultant colleagues.

He said: ‘While this is clearly a potentially huge opportunity for GPs, we recognise that it could also be a major threat both to the current form of general practice and even to the NHS as a public service.

‘We continue to believe that, wherever possible, GPs should ensure that NHS providers are the providers of choice.'

‘We are also very mindful of the need to work closely with our consultant colleagues both at national and local level, as well as colleagues in other branches of medicine.'

Dr Buckman added that it was crucial to retain good NHS managers in the health service, and said the GPC would prefer the profession to work constructively with them rather than turning to external support.

He said: ‘We cannot rise to this challenge without the help and expertise that can currently be found in the NHS. We should look inside the NHS and to our professional body for support, rather than going elsewhere for advice.'

He added: ‘While some GPs will welcome these proposals, we understand that others will be anxious about the implications, not just those in England but also in other parts of the UK.

‘We will be reflecting back to the Government the serious concerns that GPs across the UK are already raising, and will continue to do that at every stage of this process.'

Dr Laurence Buckman Questions on the White Paper? Click here to put them to the primary care tsar. Your questions on the White Paper Buckman letter Read the full letter here

Click here to read the full letter from Dr Buckman