GPC left reeling as CMO 'reneges' on flu deal
Livid GP negotiators have accused ministers of reneging on a deal to pay GPs in England for vaccinating at-risk under-65s against flu this winter.
They are demanding retraction of a circular sent by the Chief Medical Officer last week telling GPs a personal administration fee of £1.65 would be the sole payment for immunising younger patients.
Negotiators were adamant they had struck a deal with the NHS Confederation to pay GPs in England a £6.80 item-of-service fee for the work.
But they were left reeling after the confederation releas-ed a statement backing CMO Professor Sir Liam Donaldson.
The bitter schism is clear evidence of the rocky ride facing negotiators over implementation of the new contract.
GPC chair Dr John Chisholm fanned the flames with a claim that the CMO's letter 'could not be further from the truth'. He has written to health minister John Hutton demanding crisis talks.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC joint-deputy chair, said: 'I'm absolutely livid. We believed we had negotiated a payment for the under-65s.'
Negotiators were so con-
fident of the deal they had been trailing it since the pre-ballot contract roadshows.
But the confederation said negotiators had agreed the status quo would remain until the new contract came into force in April. It added: 'In England, the existing item-of-service fee for flu does not cover those at risk under 65.'
The Scottish GPC is now anxiously awaiting confirmation that a pay deal has been agreed for under-65s.
GPs in England face another winter watching colleagues in Wales and Northern Ireland get paid for work they are expected to do for nothing.
GPC member Dr Kailash Chand, secretary of West Pennine LMC, said GPs would be 'up in arms'. He was angry with negotiators as there was now 'little chance' of renewing a local incentive scheme. 'We understood there was no need to approach the PCT. We were told it would be part of an enhanced service this winter.'
The CMO's letter instructed PCTs to maximise uptake in at-risk under-65s. But GP negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: 'Unless they pay me for actively seeking out at-risk patients, I won't do it.'