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LMCs support contract but fear shift has come too late

GPs' representatives have thrown their weight behind the contract but believe their change of heart may come too late to affect the final ballot

result.

The dramatic switch in mood at last week's annual LMC conference saw GPs reject overwhelmingly motions criticising the deal and instead congratulating GP negotiators on their 'courage'.

Several critical motions, including one of no confidence in the negotiators, were withdrawn at the last minute as the move to a positive view became apparent. GPC chair Dr John Chisholm's opening speech was met with a standing ovation.

Dr Kevin McBride, a member of Wiltshire LMC, which had proposed the no confidence motion, said he believed a Yes vote was now 'pretty

certain'.

The result will be announced hours after the ballot closes at 10am this Friday.

But LMCs warned their mood swing may have come too late to sway sceptical grassroots GPs.

David Shubhaker, secretary of Redbridge and Waltham Forest LMC, said only 10 GPs out of 60 at two recent roadshows on the contract he attended had backed the deal.

'Even with our clear endorsement I have a feeling that grass-roots GPs are not as enlightened as we are,' he said.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said the support of LMCs did not necessarily translate to the entire profession. 'It does seem to swinging behind us,' he said.

'But there are people who are still angry and upset and what LMCs vote on and what happens on the floor with grass-roots GPs can be different so I'll wait and see.'

Dr Ian Jarvis has severely criticised a social services department at a public inquiry into the death of an 88-year-old patient who was forced to switch care homes because of a rise in fees.

Dr Jarvis wrote to Gloucestershire social services to warn moving Cissy Townsend would 'considerably reduce' her life expectancy, but the department still refused to fund the £85 a week increase. She died five days after the move.

Dr Jarvis, a GP in Gloucester, told last week's inquiry a compromise would have prolonged her life. 'Social services felt she didn't have special needs which required her to have different consideration. I felt in view of her communication difficulties, she did,' he said.

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