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A bitter row between GPs in Sunderland has intensified after the LMC ratified a new constitution that prevents a number of doctors in the city standing for elections.

The decision marks the latest move in a year-long battle between a group of 13 GPs and the LMC.

The dispute began when the committee was accused of failing to defend two GPs sacked by a PCT from its professional executive committee.

A group of 13 GPs ­ including the two who were dismissed ­ then accused the LMC of 'retrospectively cancelling' elections in April and barring some PMS GPs from standing because they had not paid their voluntary levy.

In a poll staged by the 13 in September, 101 out of 112 GPs in the city demanded the LMC stand down and hold a new ballot.

The LMC instead drafted a revised constitution, which states GPs who want to vote and stand for LMC election must have been paying the levy for three months, and sent it to GPs for comment.

Sunderland LMC secretary Dr Surya Patnaik said very few doctors objected before the committee ratified the constitution last month.

He said 'It seems most GPs accept it. We will ask an independent organisation to conduct the LMC elections so it will be fair.'

But a statement sent to Pulse from 'a concerned GP' in the city said it would 'exclude many GPs from standing or voting in any future elections'.

The GP said: 'Large numbers of GPs have reiterated their insistence that the LMC stands down and that they have no mandate to change our constitution.'

Dr Gaddam Reddy, a GP in Sunderland, said he backed the 13 GPs at the centre of the row and called on the LMC to hold 'fresh' elections.

'It's a good idea to have a fresh election ­ whether you pay a levy or not you should be able to stand,' he said.

But another GP, who asked not to be named, said the group of 13 did 'not have the support of the vast majority of the GPs in Sunderland'.

'I don't side with anybody. I think it's just a power struggle and no one is in the mood to compromise. The group of 13 GPs are isolated,' the GP said.

By Nerys Hairon

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