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Is this the end of the family GP? FEARS OVER SUPER-SURGERIES.

Byline: ROSA PRINCE Political Correspondent

FAMILY doctors could be replaced by massive super-surgeries covering thousands of patients under radical Government plans.

The Department of Health has drawn up proposals to replace practices serving small areas with larger group surgeries of 10 or more GPs.

It would cut the number of surgeries from 10,000 to around 1,800 and virtually eliminate the 4,000 single and two-doctor practices.

Elderly people and parents are expected to oppose the idea, which could mean travelling long distances to visit a doctor. Patients' groups fear scrapping family doctors would lead to a poorer service as GPs would not have a chance to build up a close relationship with people.

Although the plans have yet to be formally adopted, sources say they are expected to be implemented within a decade. As family doctors retire, their surgeries will be merged with neighbouring practices until there are few single GPs left.

Ministers believe the changes will prevent a repeat of the Harold Shipman tragedy - the doctor was able to murder dozens of patients undetected for years because he worked on his own.

The proposals were outlined by Jo Whitehead, Department of Health head of primary care development, at a conference run by the NHS Modernisation Agency.

The Royal College of GPs said: "The Government has no idea what general practice is about."

The Small Practices Association said: "Where will people turn if they want to see a doctor they know and trust?"


PHASED OUT: Family doctor
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 29, 2005
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