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BMA polling reveals ballot result rests on knife-edge

The outcome of the contract ballot is too close to call,

according to private polling by the BMA.

But the proportion of GPs intending to vote in favour of the contract has risen sharply in recent weeks, boosting negotiators' hopes of a Yes result.

Pulse has learned the BMA polling indicated a certain No result immediately before the special LMC conference last month. But the GPC heard at last week's crucial meeting that the latest results revealed a 50-50 split.

GPC members hope the 11th-hour concessions wrung from the Government will tip the balance in favour of the Yes vote.

Birmingham GP Dr Fay Wilson, a GPC member who spearheaded the campaign to delay the ballot by six months, said she was now 'content' to move to a vote. 'I think the concessions will change it. People will feel more positive about it. If there is no more movement to be got, we have to let GPs decide.'

Fellow GPC member Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in Edgware, Middlesex, said the concessions were 'bound to tip the vote in favour' of a Yes result.

He added: 'We were told there was no further scope for renegotiation and we had reached the limit of the time-scale. The committee had to make a pragmatic decision to put aside our ideals.'

He added: 'There is a growing number of GPs beginning to feel impatient.'

NHS Alliance contract spokesman Dr David Jenner predicted a knife-edge vote in England but strong support for the contract in Scotland and Wales, where the Carr-Hill formula will boost most GPs' pay.

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