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Legal experts warn GPC over challenge to GP pay deal

By Gareth Iacobucci

The GPC has been warned it faces a major challenge if it decides to mount a legal battle against the unilateral imposition of contract changes.

A leading solicitor has told Pulse GPs will struggle to mount a challenge unless they can prove the Government's offer explicitly breaks a previous contractual agreement.

Andrew Lockhart-Mirams of Lockharts solicitors, who drew up the standard PMS contract and worked with the BMA on the 2004 GMS deal, said: ‘If the Government wants to change the contract, although it will negotiate and listen to what the GPC says, on the face of it, it has the power to do it.'

‘I would need quite a bit of persuading that there is some continuing promise that lasts for a period the Government can't get out of. That's what the GPC has got to find, because other than that, the Government can change the rules.'

Trade union laws dictate the BMA must ballot GPs before it advises members on which way to vote, but the GPC confirmed GPs will not face any legal obstacles if they choose to boycott Choose and Book or the electronic care record.

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the joint GPCRCGP IT subcommitte said: ‘There are no legal barriers at all. Choose and Book is no longer part of the DES from 1 April, so it's entirely voluntary, and therefore there is no need for legal opinion. The care record has always been voluntary, so there's no question of any comeback.'

Andrew Lockhart-Mirams, partner at Lockharts: 'Government has the power to change the contract unilaterally.' Andrew Lockhart-Mirams

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