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GPC shuns 'action' call

The GPC's decision to shy away from balloting GPs on industrial action sparked a fiery hour-long debate.

At least a third of the 550-strong delegation backed a motion calling for 'industrial action which does not disadvantage patients'.

Although the vote was lost, GPs lined up to denounce the Government-imposed pay freeze, which they said was effectively a pay cut for the second year running.

'Our patients value us and still trust us – too bad this Government doesn't,' said Dr Douglas Colville, from Glasgow LMC. 'Be in no doubt, if this second successive year of pay cuts passes without notice, we allow this at our peril.'

Dr Gillian Beck of Buckinghamshire LMC called for industrial action, saying she was facing a £5,000 drop in income this year.'There's lots of things we could stop doing, upsetting the Government but not the patient,' she said. 'Faced with an intransigent employer, we cannot send negotiators naked into the lions' den.'

Dr Russell Brown of East Sussex LMC said calls for industrial action should not be seen as 'rabble-rousing'.'What bigger battles are there than the level of funding for the service we're all committed to?' he said.

But Dr Peter Swinyard of Wiltshire LMC said: 'I can't think of anything I do that's patient-neutral. 'If we undertake industrial action, it has got to disadvantage patients one way or another.'

And Dr Sylvia Glass of Cheshire LMC warned that any impact on patients would be seized upon by the Government's 'spin campaign'.

'Let's not give them another headline,' she said.

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