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Community hospital GPs in pay threat

Thousands of GPs will quit community hospital work this year unless the Government agrees a new pay deal, GP negotiators warn.

The GPC has demanded up to a five-fold rise in rates for GPs working shifts at the hospitals, many of whom have not had their contracts updated for 15 years despite taking on more responsibility. Negotiators have given ministers a summer deadline to agree new terms and until March 30 to set a timetable for talks.

The GPC had wanted to strike a deal for community hospital work during the GMS contract talks but the NHS Confederation said it did not have a mandate to negotiate on the issue.

The pay Review Body recommended the Department of Health make an agreement 'a priority' in its report earlier this month but stopped short of calling for immediate negotiations.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden accused it of 'passing the buck'.

He said: 'Community hospitals are an unreasonable and underpaid burden. The Review Body acknowledged it was a timebomb but abrogated its responsibility.

'We are now making clear we mean business. I want an absolutely cast-iron timetable by March 30. We've got to have finished negotiating to our satisfaction before the summer holidays.

'The bottom line is that there is no obligation on GPs to staff these places.'

He added GPs were questioning why they were working out-of-hours shifts in community hospitals when they would be able to give up 24-hour responsibility at their practice from April.

GPs would start to submit their resignations in September, giving three months notice to enable them to ditch all out-of-hours work at the same time, Dr Holden said.

GPC Wales chair Dr Andrew Dearden said he would pursue a national agreement or even hospital-by-hospital deals if a UK timetable was not agreed.

The Department of Health said it was 'considering how to take forward' a review of the terms and conditions of GPs working in hospitals. The BMA said it would survey GPs on hospital working conditions.

By Ian Cameron

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