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GPC chair claims ‘apology for misunderstanding’ over out-of-hours care from Lansley

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has opened a fresh row over out-of-hours care after claiming the new health secretary’s office had phoned him to apologise for the misunderstanding caused by a recent article in the Daily Mail.

Dr Buckman told the annual conference of Surrey and Sussex LMCs he had been contacted by Andrew Lansley to disown a report in the Daily Mail that he would ‘tear up’ the current GP contract and give back responsibility for out-of-hours care to GPs.

But the Department of Health strongly denied the call from Andrew Lansley’s office had been an apology for the way the article had been interpreted, insisting his comments to the Mail had been clear that GPs would be responsible only for commissioning.

The article – based on his first exclusive interview with the press since being appointed by David Cameron – has concerned GPs, with many interpreting it as preparing the ground for handing GPs responsibility for provision of out-of-hours.

But Dr Buckman said the Conservatives had made it clear that while there would be a shake up of the commissioning responsibilities for out-of-hours, they had no plans to make individual practices take back responsibility for cover.

‘Certainly we’ve got off to a good start,’ said Dr Buckman.

‘It was refeshing that on I got a phone-call from Andrew Lansley’s office to apologise for the front page article.’

Dr Buckman added: ‘I would never have got that from any of the Labour secretaries of state for health. If that’s the way its going to be, it bodes well for us.’

He said the Conservatives claimed their plans had been misrepresented by the newspaper’s headline.

The author of the Mail story Jenny Hope was ironically a guest speaker at the event, and later told GPs: ‘I don’t write the headlines.’

Lansley ‘sorry for misunderstanding’ on out-of-hours care