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Lansley is turning the difficult into the impossible

Open letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley...

Dear Mr Lansley,

I write following your recent interview on Radio 4. Your evasion of the simple question ‘is it acceptable for a patient declined a cancer drug to pester their GP until they have it prescribed?' is deeply troubling.

The profession is ready to undertake the role of assigning priorities for health spending and helping explain to the public the reality that healthcare is rationed by financial constraints related to public willingness to fund the system through taxation.

Your failure to make clear that a GP consultation is an inappropriate forum for discussion of the strategic duty of commissioning appears to encourage pester power.

You appear to be naive about the capacity of the determined individual to occupy GP time to the detriment of the ability to offer care to others. I do not believe the profession can operate on the front line and make strategic decisions if you do not establish a ‘right question right place' principle.

I am willing to justify difficult decisions in an appropriate forum to anyone, but you have a role to play.

You were at pains, in a meeting I attended, to stress you had never passed an adverse comment about GPs in any published media.

This is an empty boast when you do not stand up to support the probity of the difficult commissioning decisions you are asking the profession to make.

Shame on you for making the difficult task you have asked GPs to undertake impossible.

From Dr Andrew Mimnagh
Waterloo, Merseyside