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GPs may have to close lists

The pay freeze may force GPs in Scotland to close their doors to new patients, the annual conference of Scottish LMCs heard.

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of the Scottish GPC, gave the warning as debate over the pay situation and allegations of a Government spin campaign against GPs dominated the conference.

In his keynote address, Dr Marshall said GPs had been 'victims of anti-GP spin' and warned 'the continued assault on our profession will see our morale and commitment to the NHS plummet'.

The pay freeze had in effect resulted in a 6% pay cut for GPs, he said.'In the next few months, once GPs have put their business plans together, we could see GPs closing their lists because it does not make financial sense to keep taking on new patients,' he told the conference in Glasgow last week.

Dr Marshall also echoed the UK-wide call from the GPC for GPs to stop doing work that was no longer funded by a directed enhanced service.'At some point you're going to have to say no and stop doing it, and I think that time is now,' he said.

The conference unanimously passed motions criticising the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body pay report and media coverage of GP pay.Dr Mary Peddie, a GP and LMC member from the Forth Valley, said GPs had been penalised for overachieving. 'In any other line of work you get a bonus, a thank you,' she said. 'It's not really about the money as such, it's about being able to provide services.'

Dr Douglas Colville, a GP and chair of Greater Glasgow and Clyde LMC, said: 'Yet again the Government has underrated GPs. It's not our fault if politicians fail to recognise our clinical skills or our business skills.'

However, LMC members stressed the need to keep public support. A motion calling for 'a return to the pre-contract position of balloting GPs on their willingness to resign from NHS general practice' got one vote.

Dr John Ip, a GP and LMC member in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: 'I don't think this is the time for barricades and resignations. We need to be mindful of public perception. We need to keep our cool.'

How Scottish LMCs voted

Pay rise - 'Conference deplores the recent DDRB ruling for GPs, which will result in a reduction in pay for all GPs without any reduction in workload' – passed unanimously'

Spin - ''Conference deplores the inaccurate media coverage of GP pay and workload'– passed unanimously

MMC/MTAS' - Conference deplores the mess created by MTAS, potentially blighting the careers of young doctors and adversely affecting recruitment to the profession' – passed unanimously

Drinking in public - 'Conference believes that the rise in alcohol-related morbidity and mortality is extremely worrying and calls for a national rollout of local schemes to outlaw the consumption of alcohol in public streets' – narrowly passed

QOF content - 'Conference requires that lifestyle issues such as obesity should not be part of QOF' – passed

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