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GPC to go it alone on future pay evidence

GP negotiators have already decided to give up on a negotiated pay award next year, after an unprecedented summit over pay, writes Steve Nowottny.

The joint summit between the GPC and LMC secretaries last week saw anger running high over the recent pay freeze, although little in the way of immediate action.The discussions led the GPC to decide to pull out of any negotiations with NHS Employers over next year's pay award. Instead it will submit separate evidence to the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body.GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said GPs would consider industrial action next year if an adequate pay rise was not forthcoming. 'I would strongly advise the Government and NHS Employers not to take the fact that GPs aren't immediately calling for strikes as a sign of weakness.'The NHS Employers pay offer this year 'had never really got into the ballpark', he said. 'We don't want to be in the situation where we seem to be renegotiating the contract every year.'However, Alastair Henderson, deputy director of NHS Employers, said: 'If you've got a contract it seems highly odd to say we will cut off any possibility of looking at or reviewing this or that aspect of it.'The DDRB would be unable to make decisions on issues such as enhanced services, he added, and it would be 'considerably more constructive' for the GPC to negotiate.The GPC also resolved at Thursday's meeting to promote the cost-cutting guidance for GPs it issued three weeks ago, provide further legal advice to LMCs and conduct a wider survey of GP opinion.LMC representatives described the mood of the summit, at which 144 GPs convened at BMA House, as 'realistic'.Dr Peter Joliffe, chief executive of Devon LMC, said there was no 'genuine groundswell' of support for further action. 'This wasn't the time to go to war,' he said.'It was all very gentlemanly and trying to be constructive,' said another LMC secretary. 'There were no loaded statements against the GPC. Hamish didn't have to fall on his sword. The view was that we're going to get absolutely nowhere by slagging off negotiators.''I think the GPC are doing what they can,' said Dr Alison Munns, a GP in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.'I don't think there is a real mood for industrial action among doctors, although there will always be a cohort that shout loudly for it.'

Plan of action

• GPC guidance published three weeks ago recommends ways GPs can balance the books, including reviewing involvement in enhanced services and practice-based commissioning• LMCs to receive a support package of legal guidance to supplement guidance for practices• BMA to issue its alternative strategy for the NHS next month• GPC to conduct wider poll of grassroots GP opinion• GPC to submit separate evidence to pay review body over next year's pay award and not negotiate directly with NHS Employers

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