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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPC is not to blame for contract fiasco

I am concerned about the proposed motion of no-confidence in the GPC negotiators following the disastrous launch of the new contract (news report, April 14). I feel the finger is being pointed at the wrong people.

The negotiators are honest, hardworking and skilful doctors, but not professional negotiators. They have done their best for nearly two years to negotiate the best possible contract with the NHS Confederation, for the benefit of general practice as a whole and the patients we serve in particular.

Like all such negotiations, there has had to be an element of compromise and it is not possible to keep all GPs happy all the time.

The real reason why there is such a mess is because the politicians and the Department of Health, who appointed the confederation to negotiate on their behalf, meddled with what had been agreed.

In particular they deleted some parts of the Carr-Hill formula, thus invalidating it, and insisted on using out-of-date census data rather than practice information for calculating list sizes. They also refused to implement pension enhancements and incentives for doctors approaching retirement.

Part of the reason why the altered Carr-Hill formula was not thoroughly tested before the figures were released was that the department failed to obtain the financial information from PCTs until the last minute.

Instead of fighting each other like rats in a trap, we should be directing our anger at the politicians and place the blame for the debacle fairly and squarely at their door and demand that they reintroduce the contract as originally agreed.

At the same time it would be unfair, unjust and foolish to censure the negotiators. Instead we should give them a strong vote of confidence so they can finish the job they have been working at so diligently for so long and produce a contract that can be owned by the whole of the profession.

Dr C John Eaton

Saffron Walden

Essex

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