§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
The Government's plans for improving the family doctor service and making it more responsive to patients were set out in the White Paper "Promoting Better Health". The objectives of this White Paper were widely supported in many quarters including the representatives of general practitioners, the general medical services committee. Following 12 months' consultation with the GMSC negotiators, I recently set out the Government's plans in more detail in the report "General Practice in the National Health Service—A New Contract", which I sent to all general practitioners.
I have received a variety of responses in person, in writing and through the helpline set up for GPs in my Department. The response of individual GPs depends to some extent on their circumstances. Those who provide fully comprehensive services and are attracting patients to their lists are able to see how their practice incomes can increase as a result of the reforms we advocate. Others are recognising the need to change the way they run their practices if they are to maintain practice incomes at present levels. To summarise, the responses vary, but a number of important changes are enthusiastically welcomed, such as the greater emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention and on health care in areas of deprivation.
I intend to have a further meeting with the GMSC negotiators myself and I still regard myself as engaged in a process of consultation with them, despite the outspoken comments of some of their leaders and of some of their local medical committees.