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Bullying row as GPs quit unpaid work

GPs are condemning primary care trusts for using 'bullying techniques', including threats of GMC referral, to coerce practices to provide enhanced services for little or no pay.

The censure comes amid an upsurge in disputes over enhanced services as GPs get tough with PCOs over 'derisory' pay offers.

LMCs have reported GPs issuing notices to quit some services, with practices even threatening to take cases to the small claims court unless they were paid for work that had not been commissioned.

Salford and Trafford LMC has written to GPC chair Dr John Chisholm accusing two local trusts of 'moral and

ethical blackmail' after they warned that GPs who stopped providing services could be reported to the GMC if patients were harmed or left without an alternative.

LMC honorary secretary Dr Ravi Mene said GPs had turned down an offer of £75 per patient per year from Trafford North and South PCTs to provide alcohol and drug misuse services – well below national rates.

The PCTs confirmed the issue of GMC action had been raised, but denied the blackmail charges.

GPC negotiators said they knew of two or three areas where GPs had been threatened with GMC referral.

GPC Wales chair Dr Andrew Dearden said he would be happy to refer any clinician issuing such threats to the GMC. 'I have made that observation and the threats have stopped,' he said. 'We have to hit back as hard. We will not stand idly by while they act in this way.'

South Lancashire, Bro Taf and Manchester LMCs reported rows over enhanced services were coming to a head.

Bro Taf LMC has issued guidance to practices to refer minor injuries patients to casualty as the national enhanced service has not been commissioned.

An officer at the LMC added that two practices were prepared to invoice acute trusts for minor injuries work and pursue small claims court action if they were not paid.

Dr Simon Harris said his practice had stopped doing suture removals and minor injuries except for emergencies.

The practice in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, has also given notice to a local hospital that it will only do five out of eight types of near-patient testing from early July.

Dr Harris said: '[Patients] are pretty good about it. We feel bad about it but equally I'm not going to be abused and work for nothing.'

South Lancashire LMC said it had given trusts until the end of June to come up with proposals on up to 15 enhanced services.

By Nerys Hairon

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