GPs turn fire on ministers over contract troubles
Conference reports by Nerys Hairon, Ian Cameron and Emma Wilkinson
GPs have laid the blame for problems with the new contract firmly at the door of the Government.
LMC representatives overwhelmingly rejected a series of motions that heavily criticised the contract, and instead turned their fire on ministers over their implementation of the deal.
GPs at the conference deplored 'the deliberate mis-
interpretation' of the contract by the Department of Health.
The vote came after GPC chair Dr John Chisholm told GPs that major difficulties with implementing the deal had not stopped it delivering what GPs asked for – less work for better pay.
He said: 'Let me be clear. Despite the apparent criticisms we have delivered GPs' objectives: less work, the ability to say no to new work, better pay, better pensions, practice-level flexibility and increased investment in general practice.'
Dr Chisholm also launched a broadside against PCOs for a 'failure of strategic vision', and branded their inability to grasp the opportunities presented by the deal as 'unsatisfactory and unacceptable'.
Dr Colin Patterson, from North Cumbria LMC, summ-ed up the mood of LMC representatives when he argued it was too early for GPs to condemn the contract as a failure, even though the implementation had been fraught.
Doing so, he said, 'is like declaring a final score at half time, when there is still everything to play for'.
Dr Patterson added: 'Some PCOs have lost the plot, but bad administration does not equal a bad contract.'
But Dr Preston de Mendonca, Devon LMC member and a GP in Plymouth, said while the contract would
deliver what had been pro-mised, it would not make GPs happy. 'It will brutalise us in a way we did not foresee,' he said.
'Why are we so glum? That is because the new contract has made all the decisions for us. Before we see a patient it has already decided what the priorities are and the software poisons the consultation. It has really put in jeopardy our very soul.'
Dr Andy Sapsford, from Buckinghamshire LMC and a GP in Amersham, said he could count on one hand the number of GPs who were satisfied with the contract.
Dr Chisholm replied that negotiators never promised to make every GP happy.
However, he acknowledg-ed that a major disappointment with the deal was the fact so many practices were dependent on MPIG, which meant they were locked into historic funding inequities.