Quality and Outcomes Framework

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson The Secretary of State for Health 2:30 pm, 5th February 2008

I do not agree with my hon. Friend that the contract was a mistake or inexact. In fact, during the period leading up to 2004, we had a crisis in GP recruitment. We could not recruit undergraduates from medical schools and we had an ageing group of GPs. A huge shortage of GPs was the big worry at that time, but our medical schools are now full—that problem has been resolved. I also do not agree that GPs who are called out at 4 o'clock in the morning should be expected to deal with patients and difficult cases at 9 o'clock when their surgery opens. The issue about working hours applies to GPs as well as others.

On my hon. Friend's second point, we are not seeking to introduce private practice into these areas. We are seeking to negotiate with the BMA for greater patient access. We want to bring more GPs into under-doctored areas, which have been appallingly treated in the past. The basic point is that customers and patients should get the service that they deserve. I hope that that will be in our present GP practices, but, if not, we will provide those practices in some other way.