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Independents' Day

BMA poll asks GPs to pick 'least damaging' contract option

By Christian Duffin

The BMA has sent all GPs a poll asking them to choose the ‘least damaging' of the two government options on extending opening hours.

But some GPs are angry that poll wording represents 'caving in' to unfair demands, and wanted the BMA to be more militantly opposed. One group of GPs has even set up a Facebook page – Protect NHS General Practices – in opposition to government's plans on opening hours. It has acquired 1,000 members in two weeks.

Dr Sarah Bedford, a GP from Doncaster, who helps run the site, said: ‘There should be a poll question where you can give the answer: "None of the above".'

She added: ‘I'm going to fight like hell to stop Her Majesty's Government from destroying the NHS. I have elderly patients who do not want to come to routine appointments in the evening.'

However the poll, running until February 29, does contain a question concerning GPs' views on the government's method of negotiation.

Dr Peter Swinyard, a GP from Swindon, and secretary of the Small Practices Association, said widespread condemnation of the government from this question may strengthen the GPC's hand. But it is not clear what subsequent action the BMA could take.

Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC said: ‘It's a complete no-brainer. If there is a single GP in the country who actually gives support to either of these options, I'd like to meet that person. The government's approach has been despicable and completely beyond the pale.'

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘The GPC utterly rejects the government's gun barrel method of negotiation that puts GPs in the position of choosing between two non-negotiated proposals…Right now GPs need to consider which of the two options is least disadvantageous for their practice, their patients and the future of general practice.'

Dr David Jenner, NHS lead for practice based commissioning and a GP in Devon, said GPs should choose option A then negotiate local enhanced services agreements with their PCTs on opening hours.

Questions from the poll

1) Having read the accompanying information, and as you do have to choose between the two options presented here, which of them do you select?
- Option A
- Option B

2) Which of the following best describes how you feel about the option you have selected?
- I am opposed to both options but have selected this because it was the less worse of the two
- I have selected this because it has my full support

3) Do you believe that the government's method of negotiation is acceptable or not?
- Is acceptable
- Is not acceptable

Full questions on the BMA website at:$FILE/GPpoll0208.pdf

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman: 'GPs need to consider which of the two options is least disadvantageous.' GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman BMA logo

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