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GPC was left in an impossible position

Your recent leading article ('BMA buckles under pressure') was unhelpful in the extreme.

At this time we need to be united as a profession and your article was divisive.

It is clear to any sensible person that the GPC has acted in the only way that it could at every stage of the current negotiations on extended hours. As soon as it was clear that the Department of Health had established the legal process for imposing Plan B and that we had no grounds to challenge that action, the only option for the GPC was to say that Plan A was better than Plan B, which it plainly is.

The next step is key. Having had the rug pulled from under its feet, the GPC should not negotiate with NHS Employers again, as it is clear it no longer has the authority to act on behalf of the Department of Health. I would also strongly recommend to my colleagues that we withdraw from flagship Department of Health policies that require our input to succeed - Choose and Book, practice-based commissioning and the recently announced screening programme for vascular disease risk factors.

We need to send a strong message to Number 10 that if ministers want our help, they can't treat our representative body and the profession in this way. If we don't, the MPIG will be the next to go.

Dr Russell Thorpe, St Anne's, Lancashire

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