Headlines: November 13th, 2001

A similar concern – about modernisation being a way of providing services on the cheap – is raised by the British Medical Association about intermediate care.This is the new scheme flagged up in the NHS Plan, which envisages a thousand GPs becoming specialists who could see patients instead of a hospital consultant.

They would take referrals from non-specialist GPs in such disciplines as dermatology, orthopaedics, and ophthalmology, and conduct some ear, nose and throat surgery or procedures such as endoscopies.

The BMA says intermediate care could offer significant potential advantages for patients and the health if properly resourced, but must not be seen as a cheap option for patient care.

It has published a paper, Intermediate care and specialist GPs, in which it warns that substantial extra resources must accompany the new service if it is to work.

It also warns that the new service might also worsen the already crippling shortage of GPs in general practice, as some take up the opportunity to become specialists.

Intermediate care and specialist GPs will be published on the BMA website at: www.bma.org.uk