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Independents' Day

Fury as GPs accused of holding out for more money over swine flu vaccination

By Ian Quinn

A furious row has broken out after NHS health chiefs accused GPs of holding out for more money over the swine flu vaccination programme for children under five.

Dr Brian Dunn, chair of the BMA's Northern Ireland General Practitioner Committee, said GPs had been left raging after John Compton, chief executive of the Regional Health and Social Care Board, accused GP leaders of being morally wrong to reject a deal.

GP leaders in Northern Ireland were still hoping to agree a country-wide deal covering its four LMCs but were rocked after hearing fo the attack on a radio show covering the debate.

Mr Compton told the Northern Ireland assembly's health committee it should not have come down to money.

‘It is always a matter of regret when it presents itself as a rather difficult negotiation over whether it's £5.20, £6.20 or £10.20 - I think that's just the wrong place to be,' he said.

Dr Dunn, a GP in Larne and a member of the GPC's UK negotiating team, said: ‘GPs are incredibly disappointed at the comments made by Mr Compton, who is chief executive of the body that has been asked to approach GPs to negotiate a local, Northern Ireland, solution to the under fives swine flu vaccination phase.

‘Either Mr Compton does not understand the situation or he is deliberately misleading the public.'

‘The breakdown in negotiations regarding this phase of the H1N1 vaccination programme was not over money. It was about the desire of GPs to be able to continue their normal clinical work to look after all patients, in the midst of delivering swine flu vaccinations.

‘Northern Ireland GPs do not want more money than what was offered. What GP negotiators have consistently asked for is a reduction in the bureaucracy associated with their contract to allow them to cope with this vaccination programme in addition to their ongoing work, without harming patient safety and other aspects of medical care.'

Dr Dunn added: ‘It's interesting that Mr Compton's board is the body tasked now with the delivery of this phase of the vaccination programme. NIGPC presumes by his comments that he has organised an alternative programme that will not be delivered by GPs'.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for BMA Scotland have told Pulse there is no prospect of a country-wide deal for swine flu vaccination for the under fives, and that as in England it will be down to individual LMCs to negotiate deals with health boards.

Swine flu vaccination programme

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