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Gold, incentives and meh

GPs demand Euro court challenge on 'restraint of trade'

GPs are calling on the GPC to launch a European Court challenge to overturn a clause in the contract that stops them charging their patients for non-NHS work.

The demand comes in a series of motions to the annual LMCs conference arguing that clause 483 of the contract is a restriction on trade and has no parallel in the NHS.

The clause forces GPs to send their patients to another practice for private work, such as minor cosmetic procedures.

LMCs want the clause scrapped to allow GPs to charge their own patients for non-essential services and for services that are not provided or commissioned locally.

The move could also allow GPs to charge private fees for all travel immunisations, advice and care related to a patient's occupation and services provided out-of-hours where the practice has opted out of responsibility.

Dr Paul Abbott, former chair of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LMC – one of the LMCs to put forward a motion – said stopping GPs from providing services their patients wanted and were willing to pay for was crazy: 'Other doctors can provide it to my patients and I can provide it to other doctors' patients.'

Dr John Peniket, secretary of Gloucestershire LMC, said GPs believed the clause was a restraint of trade. He added: 'There are circumstances where the service cannot be provided because the PCT cannot afford it.'

Dr Chris Tiarks, secretary of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire LMCs, said the end to the ban on the sale of goodwill meant it was 'doubly unfair' GPs were restricted from doing private work.

He said: 'It's unfair because it's not applied anywhere else in the NHS and it's unreasonable.'

GPC chair Dr John Chis-holm said negotiators would have to seek legal guidance

on whether a challenge was feasible.

By Nerys Hairon

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