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Gulf between patients' and GPs' expectations widens

Professional courtesy to a fellow council member at the BMA constrains me from making many of the comments that spring to mind on reading yet another intemperate letter from Dr David Roberts (August 23). Suffice to say that, once more, the strength of his anti-GPC feelings seems to have marred the factual accuracy of his remarks.

He claims the GPC is not sufficiently democratic. Of the 78 voting members in the current session, 44 are elected regionally by colleagues, a further six from the annual LMC conference and 10 by the BMA's annual representative meeting.

The remaining voting seats (18) come from the GP with the next highest number of votes in the constituency of the elected GPC chair, voting nominees of other bodies, and co-options from under-represented groups of GPs.

Non-voting GPC members include

ex-officio positions (four) and nominees from other bodies (seven seats in all), including two doctors from the RCGP.

So out of 78 voting members, 51 are directly elected solely by their fellow GPs and another 10 are directly elected through the ARM vote. The other seat-holders are chosen by their colleagues. It seems pretty democratic to me. Dr Roberts does not offer any alternative schemes or positive suggestions. He himself was, of course, a GPC member in the past.

The slurs he makes on past-chairs of the GPC are ill-founded and unfair, but they are characteristic of Dr Robert's style over the years. The GPC is less than perfect and we are actively seeking ways to improve it.

The same goes for the new contract. But it does produce what GPs said they wanted as your page one headline showed 'Contract set to deliver on pay promise'. No doubt Dr Roberts wants to scrap that as well.

Dr Hamish Meldrum

Chair, GPC

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