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GPC seat for rebel leader a 'statement of intent'

By Gareth Iacobucci

The row over the looming split between partners and salaried GPs is now causing ructions at the heart of the GPC, following the news that the rebel leader spearheading breakaway talks will take a seat on the committee.

As Pulse revealed last week, Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs, is to take one of the two Medical Practitioners' Union positions on the committee, representing the union he has been urging disenchanted GPs to join.

But the appointment has caused disquiet in the GPC ranks, with some members concerned that the move may cause friction within the committee.

The move came as the BMA lent its support to the aims of Pulse's One Voice campaign to help heal the profession's rift, while Dr Fieldhouse indicated his organisation would be willing to talk to GPC leaders.

The MPU has held two seats on the GPC since the 1960s, which it gained in return for giving up its negotiating rights with the Department of Health on GP pay.

Dr Ron Singer, a GP in Edmonton, north London, president of the MPU, and fellow GPC member, admitted the move had caused a stir among the ranks of the GPC.

‘It's already has ruffled a few feathers,' he said. ‘Of course, it would do. There has been a lot of email traffic.'

Dr Singer described the move as ‘a statement of intent' but insisted Dr Fieldhouse would be more than just a flag-waver for salaried GPs and locums.

‘He will be representing our union in its entirety. Taking on the role is a statement of intent.'

Dr Rob Barnett, a GP in Liverpool and fellow GPC member, said all members ‘should be adult enough to work together', but warned: ‘No one should be there believing they are a representing a single faction or be there on a single issue.'

Another GPC member told Pulse anonymously that a number of committee members were deeply worried by Dr Fieldhouse's appointment and anticipated ‘friction' in the coming meetings.

Dr Fieldhouse told Pulse that his role would become more important if more salaried and locum GPs joined the MPU.

But he added that there was still room for compromising with the BMA. ‘I'd be prepared to talk,' he said.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse is to take a seat on the GPC Dr Richard Fieldhouse is to take a seat on the GPC Support the Pulse One Voice campaign

To add your name in support of the One Voice campaign for a united profession, click here.

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