Family doctors’ leaders have offered an olive branch to ministers in their bitter battle over the government’s NHS reforms.
The Royal College of General Practitioners - which has been one of the strongest opponents of the Health and Social Care Bill - has written to David Cameron offering talks on its implementation.
College chair Clare Gerada stressed in the letter that they had not changed their views on the legislation.
However she said the debate had become “polarised” and suggested the time had come “to restate our similarities rather than continuously focus on our differences”.
The prospect of a truce with the GPs - who have a key role to play in the reforms - will come as a relief to the government as the Bill returns to the House of Lords today while MPs stage an opposition day debate in the Commons.
In the letter to Mr Cameron, sent last week, Dr Gerada wrote: “We both share a passion for the NHS and we all want to find a way of improving it.
“I am therefore writing to you in the hope that we can find an acceptable way forward in which the Royal College of General Practitioners is able to work with the government towards the future stability of the NHS in England and where we can help you find a way through the tensions to achieve a better health service for our patients.
“Though we do not agree on the need for, and potential impacts of, parts of the proposed legislation, I assure you that our mutual concern remains providing and planning the best possible quality of care to our patients.”
Meanwhile, the Guardian said some doctors were devoting up to four days a week setting up the clinical commissioning groups which are at the heart of the government’s plans.
The finding is based on Freedom of Information requests made to NHS primary care trusts by False Economy, a trade union-backed research group.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, told The Guardian: “It cannot make sense for experienced doctors to stop providing clinical expertise when the NHS is under such pressure.”