Anna Soubry was not.
Andrew Neil: Anna Soubry’s boss, Simon Burns, he claims you don’t represent the views of GPs up and down the country in opposing these health reforms. What do you say to that?
Clare Gerada: I think I do, I represent 44,000 GPs, of which over 90%, when we’ve surveyed them very recently, wanted me to ask for withdrawal of the bill, and that’s against the background of 1 and a half years of consultation, 3 surveys, 5 councils, 5 executive councils, a national conference, endless consultations, I can categorically tell you that my members of the Royal College of GPs do not want this bill. Some of the parts of the bill are good, I mean putting GPs in control of money, putting patients first, addressing health inequalities, but in it’s totality, the bill is a mess, the bill is flawed, and the bill will not achieve what you and Andrew Lansley and the Prime Minister are setting out to achieve.
Andrew Neil: She represents 90% of GPs..
Anna Soubry MP : I think she’s wrong. I don’t agree. Hang on, let me….let me tell you what I think. I go into my consistency, I talk to GPs, real GPs, on the ground, in my area, the consortia was formed before we got elected into government, they are putting into operation already what we are seeking to achieve, that is my experience in my constituency, with my GPs, and let me tell you this. I was approached by a doctor who lives in my consistency, but practices in Nottingham. And he took hold of me and said ‘for god’s sakes, get this bill through, so I can deliver the treatment to my patient, that I want to do’.
AN: But that’s anecdotal evidence. Her evidence is surveys and conferences …
AS: But I’m talking about life at the real end.
AN: ..why should your anecodal evidence be.more important than hers?
AS: I didn’t say it was, I didn’t say it was more important, I think…
CG: I work as a GP, we’re part of one of the first waves –
AS: But you work part time.
I thought I might feel less angry about this since it was broadcast on the 23/2/12, but I don’t.
Sourby seems to think we need reform, but also says that GPs are already providing what she wants the NHS to achieve. She notes the survey from the RCGP, but believes only the evidence she has personally come across. (Has she received no letters of dissent?) She believes that a GP who works in Nottingham can’t provide a service to patients that he wants to and therefore needs reform of the law to do so (what service? Private enterprise is the major incentive to this bill – is that what he wanted? )
But what makes me really angry was Soubry’s dismissal of Clare Gerada’s knowledge of life at the front end as a GP because she was ‘part time’. I don’t think I’ve heard this put down used quite so dismissively in some time, and interestingly, I’ve never heard it used against a man – and also, many doctors work ‘part time’ in clinical care because of academic, management or other commitments – do we deride them equally as part-timers? What I do when I’m not at work is just as important – why do we degrade caring for family as a reason to somehow be stripped of ability?
Clare Gerada is clearly working full time plus – as a GP but also as chair of the largest College at a tumultous time in the NHS. To attempt to play the ‘part time card’ is unintelligent and unfair not just to Clare but to the thousands of part time doctors in the UK who work hard and who have just as much right and ability to know what is happening in the front line – and who know that this health bill is bad for patients, and will worsen inequalities – and who know that the government are not listening to them.
I’m still angry.