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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPC in partnership incentive plan

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: The GPC is examining a detailed package of measures to address the chronic shortage of GP partnerships, including the possibility of incentivising their creation by offering enhanced service payments to practices, Pulse can reveal.

GP leaders are involved in high-level discussions on ways to incentivise practices to take on new partners, with talks centering around the possibility of working with primary care organisations on local incentives.

The BMA is also moving to address the shattered relations within the profession by promising that a new working group will consider a wide range of options for improving representation of salaried GPs and locums.

The group, whose creation was hastened by recent calls for a breakaway union for salaried GPs and locums, will examine representation of sessional doctors within the BMA, GPC and LMCs. The possibility of a separate BMA committee for sessional doctors is on the table.

Moves to address the tensions in the profession mark a breakthrough for Pulse's One Voice campaign, which is calling for incentives to make creating partnerships more attractive to practices, and an open debate on options for strengthening representation of sessional GPs within the BMA.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the proposals, currently being considered by the GPC's workforce subcommittee, would not look at renegotiating the national contract, but at possible arrangements between practices and PCTs.

‘We are actively looking at ways to enable practices to offer partnerships,' he said. ‘Any incentive would be outside the contract, possibly an enhanced services payment to practices.'

Meanwhile, the new working group will be charged with reviewing current arrangements across all national and local structures, and gathering opinions from across the board about how sessional doctors are represented within the BMA.

The majority of doctors on the group will be salaried GPs or locums, including the group's chair, Dr Mark Selman, a locum in Exeter.

‘This is going to be a robust group with some formidable characters in the sessional GP world,' said Dr Selman.

The group will also include Dr Vicky Weeks, sessional GPs subcommittee chair, members of the GPC representation subcommittee and GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash.

Dr McCarron-Nash, a salaried GP in Honiton, Devon, said the GPC was taking the split in the profession ‘very seriously'.

‘The fact that the majority of members will be from a sessional background sends out a powerful message to sessional doctors that the BMA is there to hear your voice and that we are trying to listen.

‘We want to put across the message that we're stronger together than apart. We have taken steps already, but we are not complacent.'

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash Dr Beth McCarron-Nash Sign the One Voice campaign petition

Pulse is running an email petition to call for all the main political parties to support moves to open up opportunities for partnerships.

The petition, which will also be submitted to all primary care organisations, will be a key element of Pulse's One Voice campaign to help bring the profession together.

It reads: ‘We the undersigned believe the declining opportunity for new GPs to become partners is at the root of the divisions within general practice, and is weakening the ability of GPs to act as strong advocates for patients and maintain continuity of care. We call on politicians to recognise the value of the independent-contractor model for providing innovation and long-term care for patients, and to explore contractual changes or local incentives to make it more financially attractive for practices to take on partners.'

To sign our petition, email your name and practice location to onevoice@pulsetoday.co.uk.

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