HC Deb 25 April 1989 vol 151 cc498-9W
16. Mr. McLoughlin

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last met representatives of the British Medical Association; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I met members of the general medical services committee on 20 March to discuss the proposed new contract for general practitioners.

Mr. John Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last met the chairman of the British Medical Association; and what was discussed.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I last met him formally on 22 February, when I discussed with him the remuneration of hospital doctors in the light of the Government's decisions on the nineteenth report of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body.

65. Mr. Gow

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to meet the British Medical Association; and what he expects to discuss.

Mr. Mellor

I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley).

25. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he has taken to answer the British Medical Association leaflet being distributed through doctors' surgeries.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I disapprove strongly of the BMA leaflet which grossly misrepresents the Government's proposals. It is inaccurate and misleading and I believe could cause unnecessary and unjustified alarm to more vulnerable patients. I have therefore written to all GPs to set the record straight on the BMA's five key untrue allegations.

  1. 1. None of my proposed reforms will result in doctors running out of money, leaving them unable to prescribe for ill patients.
  2. 2. The Government's intention to reward doctors who deliver high quality care to an average list of patients will not reduce the time given to patients when they need it. Doctors who choose to have more patients will need to be available for longer hours than their colleagues with small lists. However, the contract encourages new services and higher performance rather than bigger lists. Patients will not move to doctors who have little time to see them.
  3. 3. No hospital is being encouraged to opt out of the NHS nor to reduce the range of services provided. All essential local services will be safeguarded by the DHA's legal powers and duty to require local delivery of them.
  4. 4. The Government do not wish to save money by doctors taking the cheapest option. They wish to ensure that, within the resources available, more patients receive high quality care. Doctors who are given more choice and control over resources will make judgments over quality of care more than cost.
  5. 5. The commitment of the Government to the NHS is absolute and will remain so. However, after 40 years, it is sensible to seek ways of improving the way in which its huge and growing resources are used.

I will continue to take every opportunity to set out an accurate account of my proposals and to try to engage members of the medical profession in serious discussion of them.