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GPs' date with destiny is fixed for March 20

GPs are to finally get their chance to vote on the priced contract on March 20.

If the profession votes Yes GPs will get their first pay increase and practice investment money in the first quarterly payment after April, the GPC has pledged.

GPs will continue to be paid as individuals rather than through practice-based budgets for a further year, negotiators said last week.

Addressing a special LMC conference on Friday, GPC chair Dr John Chisholm guaranteed negotiations would conclude by February 20.

He said the priced contract would be presented to the profession the following day, unless the process was not completed 'for whatever reason'.

If negotiations fail, the GPC will present a full report on the talks and unveil its battle plans. The plans focus on alternatives to the new contract, which will set GPs on

a collision course with the Government.

'Any further delay would clearly be intolerable,' he said, adding it would then be up to GPs to direct negotiators on which steps to take.

Dr Chisholm said the quality and outcomes framework was near agreement but that the issue of enforced allocations was still unresolved. A solution to allocations was a 'absolute prerequisite' to agreement on the new contract, he added.

Dr Chisholm omitted to mention whether negotiators had secured one of their

key goals of securing sole negotiating rights for PMS GPs.

Dr Peter Smith, chair of the National Association of Primary Care, said the GPC would not win on this issue. He added: 'There has been a consistent view that full negotiating rights will not be given to the GPC and we have not heard ministers' views change.'

The primary legislation required for the contract will be included in the Government's Health and Social Care Bill, which is due to be introduced into Parliament in February.

Ballot countdown

February 21

final priced contract published or GPC goes public on alternatives to a new GP contract

March 3

three weeks of roadshows begin

March 20

ballot opens

April 11

ballot closes

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