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GPC candidates call for tougher leadership

The two self-confessed outsiders in the race to become GPC chair claimed this week there was a widespread call among grassroots GPs for a change in direction in its leadership.

Dr John Canning, a GPC member and a GP in Middlesbrough, said whoever won the election must win a pay rise for GPs or face a massive backlash from members.

Meanwhile Dr Eric Rose, a GP in Milton Keynes, called for a much stronger approach after also throwing his hat into the ring. Calls for a tougher stance were backed by the vast majority of GPs who responded to a Pulse snapshot survey this week on the election battle.

Six candidates are contesting the fight, following the election last month of Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC leader for the past three years, to the position of BMA chair.

GPC deputy chair Dr Laurence Buckman and fellow negotiators Dr Richard Vautrey and Dr Peter Holden are among the frontrunners, as is Dr Andrew Dearden, former GPC Wales chair.

Dr Canning admitted he was an outsider to win the election but said whoever did would face widespread resentment among GPs if the GPC failed to secure a pay rise next year. He called for more vigorous campaigning, adding: 'I'd like to see us have fewer meetings and achieve more.'

Dr Rose also called for change in the GPC approach. He said: 'We haven't been positive enough in the past in opposing some of the Government's policies on primary care. We must argue much more strongly for the preservation of traditional general practice.' Dr Rose also wanted ordinary members of the GPC to have a greater say in policy-making. 'Currently, too much power is in the hands of the negotiating team,' he added.

Dr Buckman, a GP in Barnet, north-west London, also called for a tougher stance with the Government but, in contrast to many who responded to Pulse's survey, said he did think new health secretary Alan Johnson was serious about developing a new relationship with GPs. He said: 'I want to give doctors back hope and control over their destiny. I want them to feel it doesn't have to be as bad as this. I want a rebuttal of the continuous accusations from the Government that GPs are the problem and that it is the solution, when it's the other way around.' But he added: 'I believe Alan Johnson is someone with whom we can do business.'

Pulse's survey this week suggests a majority of GPs want the GPC to take a tougher line in Government negotiations. Dr Michael Gocman, a GP in Enfield, north London, condemned GPC leaders: 'We have such weak leadership which has sold out the profession.'

Dr Julian Spinks, a GP in Strood, Kent, said at a time when the Government was trying to claw back 204 contract gains, it was 'vital we have a robust and inspirational leader capable of standing up to the Government'.

GPC members will elect the new leader on July 19 in a system of serial voting with the lowest scorer in each round dropping out. If a negotiator wins it will spark an election to replace him, involving GPC members Dr Dearden, Dr Canning, Dr Pritpal Buttar, Dr Chaand Nagpaul and Dr Peter Fellows.

Dr John Canning wants to see the GPC have fewer meeting and achieve more Dr John Canning wants to see the GPC have fewer meeting and achieve more

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