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BMA inquiry into debacle of contract negotiations

The BMA has launched an inquiry into how it allowed the GP and consultants' contract negotiations to degenerate into a fiasco.

The announcement came as fears grew that a No vote in the GP contract ballot could threaten the entire future of the BMA.

Government plans for more than half of GPs to work under locally-negotiated PMS contracts and its push for local implementation of the consultants' deal could strip away the BMA's negotiating power.

The review, which will look at the negotiating structures, processes and strategies of all of the craft committees, is in addition to the GPC's own

inquiry into the GP contract debacle.

Dr Ron Singer, Medical Practitioners Union representative on the GPC, said the BMA was worried about its

future.

'Any organisation that gets things so badly wrong that members reject its advice is in trouble.'

The GPC played down the significance of the review.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC joint-deputy chair, said even if the process had gone 'swimmingly' they would want to see what could be improved.

He added he would be happy to continue negotiating with the NHS Confederation, which has acted for ministers.

'Some people said we were dealing with the monkey rather than the organ grinder, but the idea that you can negotiate all the detailed aspects of a new contract direct with the minister is cuckoo-land,' he said.

'People might think there have been problems with these negotiations but this is nothing compared with what we would have had if we were negotiating with the Department of Health.'

Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation lead contract negotiator, said the confederation should continue to negotiate with the BMA on GP pay if the contract is accepted.

Mr Farrar said the BMA's review was 'sensible', but argued negotiations had gone well. 'In 18 months there wasn't a single walk-out ­ I think that speaks volumes,' he added.

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