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GPC told: let's see contract alternatives

GPs are increasing pressure on the GPC to publish their alternatives to the contract on the same day as the fully priced deal.

Contract negotiators have jealously guarded their alternative battle plans and insist they remain under wraps unless GPs vote No.

But LMCs around the UK are reporting mounting unease at details emerging from the negotiations and widespread anxiety about unresolved issues including pensions and allocations.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs and a GPC member, said the secret plans should have been laid before the Government 'a long time ago'.

Dr Andrew Marshall, another GPC member, said he would like the rest of the GPC to see the alternatives.

A Manchester LMC meeting recently voted 22 to three for a motion calling for so-called plan B to be unveiled before GPs went to the polls.

Dr Charles Simenoff, an executive member of Manchester LMC and GPC member, said: 'The fact we've had so much delay and messing around by the Government has made GPs suspicious.'

Dr David Melville, a GP in Havant, Hampshire, said: 'I'm not sure we can side with

the NHS model knowing it's

collapsing.'

The Government sent a warning shot across GPs' bows last week by recommending consultants get no more than an inflationary pay rise because they rejected their contract.

Professor Martin Roland, a key adviser to the negotiations, said the Government would shunt all GPs into PMS if they rejected the contract.

'I don't think the Government would feel under pressure to negotiate a different arrangement because they have already got one,' said Professor Roland, director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre.

Richard Lewis, visiting fellow at the King's Fund, said the Government would react strongly to such a 'strange negotiating tactic' and would come down harder than it had on the consultants. 'They have a large minority in PMS and that already gives them the option of making PMS quite attractive and dividing the profession,' he added.

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