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Buckman: Lansley won’t be a ‘softy’

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has issued a stern warning to GPs that new health secretary Andrew Lansley will not be a 'softy', despite the raft of recent policy announcements that have found favour with the profession.

In a rousing keynote speech to the annual LMCs conference, Dr Buckman said the health agenda under Mr Lansley was full of 'opportunities and threats' for GPs, depending on 'where his shopping list takes us'.

'We should not kid ourselves that this secretary of state will be a softy,' he warned.

Mr Lansley has enjoyed an extended honeymoon period with GPs since taking over as health secretary last month, with his announcements on delaying revalidation, abolishing targets and revamping payment by results all proving popular with the profession.

Dr Buckman said that GPs were 'ready, willing and able' to deliver Mr Lansley's agenda, but urged the new Government not to renege on its committment to work co-operatively with the profession.

Dr Buckman outlined a list of initiatives he urged the new Government to 'consign to the dustbin of history', including management consultants, the GP patient survey and the bureacracy of the NHS market.

He also called for Choose and Book, Darzi centres and parts of NHS Direct to be reviewed, and for the current 'consent to view' model of the Summary Care Record to be subject to 'thorough evaluation'.

He warned against 'spending money we don't have' on abolishing practice boundaries, asking delegates: 'Is this credible patient choice or scarce resources down the drain?'.

Dr Buckman said the GPC was 'not keen' on the new Government's plans to give GPs contractual responsibility for commisisoning, but said the GPC would reserve judgement until it saw the clearer details of the Government's plans.

He also warned that 'wholesale renegotiation' of the GP contract would create 'years of instability', and said the huge financial pressures alone would create enough challenges for GPs.

Addressing the profession, Dr Buckman said: 'We, and all our hospital colleagues, will all need to pull together in order to agree, if we can, what can stop without damaging patient care. We may have to accept that some parts of patient care may have to change too. Nobody will want that, but if it is to happen, at least let us see how we can minimise the effects on our patients.'

Dr Laurence Buckman addressing the 2010 LMCs conference Dr Laurence Buckman addressing the 2010 LMCs conference