Prime minister Tony Blair and health secretary Alan Milburn have been invited to spend a day in a GP's surgery by Dr Michael Dixon, a Devon doctor and chair of the NHS Alliance.

Speaking at a conference on modernising primary care, Dr Dixon suggested there could even be an exchange visit to Westminister - 'so doctors and primary care professionals can gain a better understanding of the problems politicians have in establishing NHS reform'.

Dr Dixon said: 'Many doctors and health professionals fear there is very little understanding at the top of patients' real needs and how healthcare is actually delivered. Sometimes we even feel we are regarded as the enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth.'

Dr Dixon also described the 'current system of accessing consultant opinion' and arranging diagnostic tests and treatment as 'hopelessly outdated' and said video conferencing and other technology needed to be used more widely.