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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP negotiator swaps new contract battles for Iraq

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr

Simon Fradd is quitting his post as a GP negotiator to move to wartorn Iraq to advise on the development of the country's health system.

He will start his new role, based in Basra in southern Iraq, at the end of this month – just before the start of the new GMS contract he helped negotiate. The six-month post means Dr Fradd will not be available for the GPC's July election. He told Pulse he wants to retain his GPC place and role as chair of the BMA's superannuation committee until 2006 so he can be accountable for his 'personal promises' on GP pensions.

Dr Fradd has been the prime target of anti-contract GPs' venom after making bullish predictions of a near-50 per cent pay rise and 58 per cent pension rise under the contract.

He will receive specialist training, including how to jump out of a moving car and deal with being taken hostage, to help prepare for potentially hostile conditions in Basra.

Dr Fradd and three NHS colleagues will have armed guards and will travel in armoured cars.

He said he was more afraid of failure than being hurt or killed. 'I don't want to get injured but am more worried about failing on the job.' He added: 'The current health budget is about one-10th of before the first gulf war.'

Dr Amira Al-Abadi, a GP in Blackburn who was born in Iraq, said the country's health service was already poor before the first Gulf War and had suffered further as a result of UN sanctions and the current conflict.

'We were doing quite well with medication and vaccination but rural clinics were very basic and hospitals had very few beds, there was no ICU and they were not well-equipped for emergencies,' she said.

GPC chair Dr John Chis-holm said Dr Fradd was always 'fizzing with interesting ideas'. He added: 'Throughout the 11 years he has talked about working in overseas aid so this is a very long-held ambition of his.'

Dr Fradd's partners in

Nottingham will cover his

sessions.

From the BMA to Basra: how Iraq compares with the UK

lWorld Health Organisation figures show Iraqi health expenditure per capita in Iraq in 2001 was $97 – in the UK it was $1,989

lLife expectancy levels are about 15 years lower than the UK

lOutbreaks of cholera have occurred since 1989; diarrhoeal disease is one of the three main killers of children in Iraq

lCases of measles and pertussis have risen sharply in recent years despite immunisation schedules existing for childhood diseases

lThere were 55 physicians per 100,000 members of the population in Iraq in 1998 compared with 179 in the UK in 2000

By Ian Cameron

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