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Independents' Day

BMA in legal battle on fee scales ban

The BMA has stepped up its battle for the right to publish fee scales for locums by bringing in lawyers to handle negotiations with the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT stopped the BMA publishing the fee scales in 2000 after ruling it was in breach of anti-competition rules.

Dr Peter Holden, chair of the BMA professional fees committee, said the OFT had failed to understand that GPs were independent contractors.

'It appears that some issues have not been completely understood. Many people have not got hold of the fact that GPs are not NHS employees,' he said.

'Now is not the time to threaten, but one does not engage the services of counsel idly.'

The BMA is allowed to issue fee guidance for services which can only be obtained from a patient's GP, such as employment medicals, but was prevented from issuing fee scales for services which a patient could 'shop around' for.

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