June deadline for ballot result must be met, says Bogle
BMA chair Dr Ian Bogle has insisted the contract ballot must open by next week so the June 23 deadline for a result and a UK-wide contract can be met.
He warned a longer delay would cast GPs in Scotland adrift and could force them to negotiate their own deal.
The June 23 deadline is for the Scottish Parliament to introduce legislation for the contract. Westminster and the Welsh Executive can wait until July 17 for a ballot result.
Speaking to Pulse after the BMA council voted that he should oversee the GP contract talks, Dr Bogle admitted the credibility of the association was also at stake.
Dr Bogle's comments indicate he has already played a pivotal role in the two weeks since the shock decision to give him a greater role.
Consultants on the BMA council forced the move amid mounting fears that gaffes in presenting the contract would lead GPs to follow hospital doctors and reject their deal.
Dr Bogle attended the crunch GPC meeting which voted for a two-week delay and he made clear a longer hiatus would split the profession and damage the BMA.
'What I wanted to make clear was the position of the BMA,' he said.
'I wanted to talk particularly about unity of the profession. What I pointed out was the BMA was a UK organisation, and we could not ignore the problem of Scotland.'
Dr Bogle warned GPs would face the same problem as consultants 'negotiating with a Government that is not
negotiating' if they rejected their deal.
'It diminishes the negotiating role of the BMA if we get No votes,' he added.
Dr Bogle said he was being kept closely informed of developments by GPC chair Dr John Chisholm, but was happy for the negotiating team to continue talks with the NHS Confederation without him having to attend.
But he said Dr Chisholm had used 'an unfortunate turn of phrase' by saying he had no intention of asking GPs to vote on the contract until he was sure of a Yes vote. 'John said what he said it came out the wrong way,' Dr Bogle added. The comment caused uproar at the recent special LMC conference.