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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Beware dangerous complacency as statins go OTC

Should the GPC be wound up and replaced? Such an idea may well be thought to be heresy, especially coming from a longstanding member of the BMA council, but close observation over the past 10-15 years has made me wonder what the GMSC/ GPC has achieved.

Under a disastrous series of leaderships – from Dr Michael Wilson, through Dr Ian Bogle and culminating in Dr John Chisholm – general practice has sunk lower and lower until it is now, finally and possibly irretrievably, fragmenting into tiny pieces.

The charge sheet makes depressing reading.

During the recent negotiations, among other things Dr Chisholm showed appalling political judgment over the Carr-Hill fiasco then reneged on LMC demands for a six-month delay resulting in the shambles of an unfinished and unpriced contract.

Back in 1989, when Kenneth Clarke proposed his new contract, Dr Wilson let it be known to all and sundry that neither it nor subsequently proposed contracts were a resignation issue.

Not only did he lose GPs that battle, governments learned that GP leaders may huff and puff but they will never bite.

Yet he was re-elected as chair by the GMSC.

His successor, Dr Ian Bogle, several times led GPs up the militant mountain over the monstrous decline in their comparative pay but he always deserted them when it became obvious battle was looming. Miniscule pay rises were accepted by the negotiators.

The common factor is that not one of these outcomes would have been possible without an acquiescent, subservient GMSC or GPC. Both committees seemed always, when push came to shove, to quietly go along with whatever the leadership said. A committee that provides no checks and balances on a leadership which is plainly out of control is worse than no committee at all.

Several years ago, in exasperation, I campaigned for the abolition of the GMSC and its replacement by a democratic committee.

The GPC was born, but it was emasculated at the start, under Dr Chisholm, who ensured that fewer than 50 per cent of GPC members would be directly elected by regional GPs. Unsurprisingly the GMSC agreed to that emasculation too.

Surely GPs have waited and suffered long enough. The GPC should be wound up and replaced by a much more democratic and responsive trade union body with teeth rather than a simple rubber-stamp.

Dr David Roberts

Broughton

Northants

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