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Independents' Day

Accountants rebuff plea to 'sell' contract to GPs

Medical accountants have rebuffed a plea from GP negotiators to 'sell' the contract to their GP clients.

At a recent meeting with accountants, GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Simon Fradd admitted negotiators' credibility had been damaged and said GPs would be more likely to listen to their accountants because they had no agenda to promote.

He appealed to members of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants to recommend the contract if they thought it would benefit GPs.

The plea is a sign of

negotiators' increasing desperation as they struggle to

turn the tide of GP opinion

in favour of the contract.

David Clough, chair of the association and an accountant at Charles Rippin & Turner, said Dr Fradd asked accountants to 'put in a good word, provided you thought it was a good deal'.

He added: 'I just wondered whether his enthusiasm [for the contract] was meant to encourage us to say to doctors "this is a good deal".'

But accountants who attended the meeting say they intend to remain impartial.

Marcia Bowers, an accountant at Deloitte & Touche, said her job was to process the figures. 'I would not sell the contract. I will give clients the facts. They can make their own minds up. There's more to it than financial things.'

Valerie Martin, a partner at PKF accountants, said: 'It's important accountants advise clients impartially. I give them facts ­ what income the contract will deliver. It's for them to decide how to vote.'

Dr Fradd insisted his appeal was not designed to get accountants to sell the whole contract, just the results of the updated ready reckoner.

'Accountants should be making clear what the benefits of the contract are on financial grounds,' he said. 'If it looks good they should tell GPs it looks good. If they felt it was appalling for a practice they must tell the practice that.'

GPs said they would not be swayed by accountants' advice.

Dr John Reid, a GP in Alford, Aberdeenshire, said he knew the intricacies of the contract better than accountants. He said: 'I don't think my accountant would understand the new contract well enough.'

Dr Arnie McDowell, a GP in Belfast, said: 'Voting Yes or No is a professional decision ­ not one for accountants.'

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