Letters: Power to the GPs

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Sir: The leaked White Paper on the future of the NHS suggests that a central concern for the new government is equality of health care for all.

A crucial starting point is fair distribution of NHS funds based on a careful statistical analysis of relative needs. As approximately 95 per cent of patient contact with healthcare services occurs in primary care, often the GP's surgery, it may surprise your readers to learn that the allocation of NHS funds to general practice has never been subject to any analysis at all.

Essentially the present "assumption" is that there are two levels of need: that patients older than 75 require twice as much care as those below that age.

The most elementary studies show that age alone is a crude measure of medical need, and even here ratios of demand rise from the age of 50 years to double by 65, treble by 75 and increase by four to six times above 75.

Relative to your needs, the older you become the less NHS funds your GP is given.

Dr R C Gilbertson

Christchurch, Dorset