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Buckman: Health bill listening exercise ‘must not be a re-spray job’

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government must make radical changes to its NHS reforms if it is to win the backing of the profession, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has warned.

In his keynote speech to representatives at the annual LMCs conference in London, Dr Buckman put on a defiant front in the face of the sweeping changes facing general practice, and urged the Government to let the profession do what it does best - 'making people better'.

In a wide-ranging speech which attacked the Government on pensions, practice boundaries and the competition agenda, Dr Buckman said the GPC was encouraged by the Prime Minister's announcements on proposed changes to the bill, but said they must go further.

'My plea to the Future Forum and the Government is please do not let this exercise just be a re-spray job to try to persuade us to accept the unacceptable. If GPs, the BMA, almost every player in the NHS, large swathes of the public and even politicians across the spectrum are ignored, then we are in for a torrid time in the English NHS.'

Dr Buckman said he was saddened at how the potential benefits of GP commissioning had been undermined by the Government's insistence on having enforced competition in the NHS.

He received generous applause for attacking plans to introduce a quality premium for GPs in consortia, and when he outlined the GPC's will to fight proposals to attack GPs' pensions.

Dr Buckman said: 'Next year we have to face possible terminal damage to our pensions - along with the rest of the public sector, even though the NHS pension scheme has only recently been reformed and is in surplus - so it gives money back to the Treasury. We will not forgive these attempts to damage the pensions for which we have worked and paid.'

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