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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Contract vote rests on a knife-edge

 · GPs split on ballot vote

 · 80% demand to see the alternatives

 · GPC says GPs are undermining talks

The outcome of the ballot on the GP contract is finely balanced, early results from a Pulse survey indicate.

Of the first 250 responses, 123 said they expected to vote No on March 20 while 122 said they planned to vote Yes ­ based on what they know so far. Only five were undecided.

A resounding 80 per cent called on the GPC to unveil Plan B ­ a secret list of alternative models of general practice GPs could operate if the contract is rejected.

GPC negotiators refused to bow to the demand, claiming it would be poor negotiating tactics that could result in a worse deal.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum accused GPs who were demanding to see the alternatives of trying to undermine the negotiations.

He said: 'There have always been some people who would like to see Plan B. We suspect they are not as keen to reach a negotiated settlement as we are.

'When you are negotiating you do not start threatening the other side with what you are going to do. There is no evidence it gets you a better deal and some evidence it gets you a worse deal.'

Dr Anne Crampton, a GP in Crowthorne, Berkshire, said she would vote Yes because she wants to ditch her out-of-hours commitment, but she still wants to see the alternatives.

'I would like us to have the option of having private practice or being able to charge for things,' she said.

'If the pricing is not favourable we have to look for radical solutions even if it means resignation.'

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