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GPs face refresher courses in £400k MMR campaign

The Government is ploughing £400,000 into a campaign to brief GPs on the most up-to-date evidence on MMR safety in a bid to boost flagging uptake of the vaccine.

The 20 English PCT areas with lowest MMR uptake have been given £20,000 each by the Department of Health to set up GP refresher sessions and parent meetings.

The move follows growing reports of GPs striking off MMR dissenters to avoid losing out on target pay.

MMR remains a sticking point in the contract negotiations. Ministers are holding out against GPC demands for a mechanism to ensure GPs are not penalised for refusals.

Uptake across the UK stood at 83 per cent in the quarter to September but has plummeted to 67 per cent in the worst-hit areas.

GPs criticised the Government bid to stem the problem.

Dr David Jenner, NHS Alliance PCT representative and a GP in Devon, said it was 'not a good way to build a relationship' with GPs. He said: 'The vast majority of GPs are well appraised of the evidence. If that money were used to compensate practices against the potential loss of income from registering MMR refusers that would be welcome.'

Swindon GP Dr Eric Holliday, who is treating some children as temporary residents to ensure MMR refusals do not threaten practice income, said: 'A significant majority of people who don't want MMR are aware of the Government advice. Reiterating it won't change their opinions.'

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said no agreement had been struck on MMR in the new contract: 'Whether there will be targets is still being discussed.'

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