Insights from the UK and beyond
A simmering row between family doctors and the government has eruptedÂ after Health Minister Ben Bradshaw accused GPs of stifling competition by operating “gentlemen’s agreements” not to poach each others’ patients.
Laurence Buckman, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, told the BBC the claim was “absolute nonsense”, but then rather undermined his own argument by adding:
“Nor are we going to compete for patients, that is not the way general practice works.”
But that is precisely the way the government wants general practice in England to work in future. It wants to improve patient access to family doctors and believes offering the public a choice of GP surgeries will be a popular and vital element of its plan.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw has used unparliamentary language to describe a campaign by doctors against plans for a network of 150 supersized surgeries — or polyclinics — across England.
More than 1.2 million people signed a British Medical Association petition that called for the government to support existing GP practices and to stop encouraging the entry of large commercial companies into primary healthcare.