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Carr-Hill debacle 'biggest mistake', says GPC review

The Carr-Hill formula debacle which caused Black Wednesday was the 'single biggest mistake' in the GP contract negotiations, the GPC's internal review concludes.

In a critical report, the GPC task group said the failure of negotiators to model the formula on their own or any other practices meant they had been 'genuinely surprised' when GPs reported massive losses.

The report also criticised the negotiating team for setting 'over-optimistic and unrealistic deadlines'.

It said: 'The resultant medicopolitical imperative to complete the task rapidly caused constant pressure, which, in turn, led to a succession of undeliverable deadlines.'

The task group called for a radical overhaul of the GPC to ensure similar mistakes do not happen again.

It made 18 recommendations, including having full-time negotiators supported by a GP executive.

The report also advocated separating the role of GPC chair and the negotiating team and reducing the number of negotiators.

Some GPs felt the GPC had become 'increasingly inefficient and dysfunctional', it added.

Other recommendations include an 'urgent overhaul' of the BMA's website and developing a GPC communications strategy 'as soon as possible'.

One GPC member said the review had 'recognised the GPC in its current form is not fit for purpose'.

GPC member Dr Chaand Nagpaul said despite the criticisms, the report was positive. 'This heralds a radical change to the structure and function of the GPC. It's a major modernisation process,' he said.

Fellow member Dr Ron Singer added: 'The whole structure of how general practice politics works is being reviewed because of the difficulties in negotiating the contract.'

Chair of the review task group Dr Julian Neal said an enormous amount had been achieved in two years but 'with the benefit of hindsight things could have been done differently'.

The proposals will now go out to consultation.

By Pulse reporters

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