Majority of GPs oppose health white paper

The majority of GPs are supportive of the new Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Clare Gerada who recently publicly announced her opposition to the government’s health white paper.

In areas with the greatest health needs GPs are most acutely aware of the social determinants of health and the desperately wide (and widening) inequalities in health and health care provision and so perhaps the objections are strongest, yet even at a recent British Medical Association Meeting there was almost unanimous opposition to the white paper.

It is becoming increasingly clear that GP entrepreneurs and the ‘circling wolves of the private health industry’ are the only ones with anything to gain from the white paper proposals. Patients, doctors, nurses and other health professionals are joining forces in their opposition and Lansley is looking more and more isolated.

At a recent meeting in Hackney of almost 100 GPs there was near unanimous opposition to the White paper. The same happened in neighbouring Tower Hamlets. The letter below is from Jackie Turner, Chair of the Tower Hamlets GP forum addressed to the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Hon Sec.

I am writing in support of Clare Gerada our new Chair.

It is entirely predictable that officials within the Department of Health will seek to rubbish her disquiet over the proposed NHS reforms, but she should not buckle under the pressure. We need more outspoken opposition to the White Paper from our leadership. Sir John Oldham claims that her comments are at odds with the profession she represents, if this is what he really believes then it is him that is out of touch.

I attended a London Regional Meeting of the BMA on 4th November to discuss the White Paper. The feeling of grass roots doctors from the floor was very much against the reforms. An indicative vote was taken demanding that the BMA council call a Special Representatives meeting to discuss the White Paper, (something that they are refusing to do). The vote was overwhelmingly for the motion, with only two voting against. The vast majority of the speakers from the floor expressed grave concerns that the reforms signal the break up of the NHS, that GPs are being set up to fail, opening the door to the private sector, ushering in a US style health care system.

This is not what doctors that I talk to want. I am Chair of Tower Hamlets GP Forum. We held a special meeting in July to discuss the White Paper. There was standing room only. Nearly one hundred local GPs came. Not one of them welcomed the reforms.

We need our leadership to speak out against the White Paper. We need to protect the NHS as the provider of health care, irrespective of ability to pay, from cradle to grave. We do not want a multi-tiered health care service where the poorest in society are left to die on the streets because they can’t afford the insurance or the fees.

I support Clare Gerada and urge her to go further. I urge her to lead the profession in opposition to these reforms because together we can stop them.

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