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Buckman scotches commissioning boycott ‘rumours’

Exclusive: The GPC has poured cold water on calls from LMC secretaries for a commissioning boycott, as it awaits final details of the formal consultation on the GP contract from the Department of Health.

Pulse has learnt that GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman has scotched ‘rumours’ of a boycott at the LMC Secretaries Conference, adding that there were too many professionals involved in commissioning and so a boycott ‘wouldn’t work’.

As revealed earlier this week, a number of LMCs raised the possibility of GPs withdrawing from commissioning work or working to rule at the conference.

But GP leaders attending the event said no one was ‘raring for a fight’ and that Dr Buckman had laid out the reasons why a boycott would be problematic in practice, although he fell short of ruling it out completely.

At the conference, the GPC announced they expect to receive details from the DH next week which will contain all the final details of the contract deal being imposed on GPs.

The DH had said they would begin the formal consultation on the changes they want to impose this month, but the Statement of Financial Entitlements has yet to be published.

Dr Buckman said they were invited to a meeting with the DH to discuss the GP contract but had declined to attend.

Dr John Hughes, secretary of Manchester LMC said: ‘The message from Laurence was that a boycott wasn’t the way to go, because we want something people would support.

‘The atmosphere of the conference was subdued and depressed. I got no impression that people were raring to go, raring for a fight. Perhaps when they see this letter from the Government they might be, but not at the moment.’

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs, said Dr Buckman discussed the practical reasons why a boycott would be difficult.

He said: ‘Commissioning was not thought to be a number one strategy because of the downsides.

‘Commissioning is important; poor commissioning harms GPs in jobs, and there is a need to influence commissioning in the community to provide good services for patients.’

‘The GPC hope that there’ll be a better course of action they can take’ he added.

But Dr Mohammed Jiva, secretary of Rotherham and Bury LMC, said a boycott of commissioning was still possible.

He said: ‘Dr Buckman said was that there was information coming out about a boycott but we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. All the cards are still on the table.’

Dr Buckman confirmed that the GPC have not explicitly decided against a boycott: ‘We haven’t ruled it out. We haven’t ruled anything out.’ he said.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Never in the history of General Practice has it been let down so badly by abysmal leadership from the GPC/

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  • We fund the GPC through our voluntary LMC levy. Unless it shows leadership and a desire to fight for our interests we should review that arrangement.

    Current GPC advice, under the banner “This is serious”, is to prepare for hard times. Pointless expenditure will have to go, perhaps starting with the voluntary levy.

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  • "Dr Buckman said they were invited to a meeting with the DH to discuss the GP contract but had declined to attend."
    You have been provided with no mandate not to attend this meeting. This is a disgrace. All the GPC negotiators and Dr Buckman should step down with immediate effect. They are no longer fit to hold office.

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  • "The GPC hope that there will be a better course of action"
    This sounds like the " something might turn up school of management " Not usually the most successful strategy for solving issues. This is not the sort of comment one expects from leaders.

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  • I guess the GPC is struggling to find a course of action because it is difficult to know what support they will get from GPs. You have to remember that a union is only as strong as its members and past history suggests that GPs are not prepared to stand up and be counted. Perhaps this explains why most of the comments on articles are 'anonymous'.

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  • Having attended the LMC secretary conference and heard the souce discussion I think it important to put this topic in context.
    The GPC where in usual negotiations with NHS bodies , it is purely when a government bully boy ultimatum of "we are imposing a contract again, come and choose how you will be hurt" that they declined.
    It was said experienced civil servants form the "other side" where personally emabrassed and dismayed at the political hardening of what had been productive negotiation to that point.
    I do feel the stance of " we do not negotiate on an imposition , only on matters for mutual agreement" is the correct ethical response in all circumstances.
    Undoubtedly when the imposition is revealed the GPC will be vocifereous in outlining the impositions many shortcomings.

    This is sensibly waiting for the target to appear before shooting, not a deficit of ideas.

    We have an unspoken difficulty in that the profession has never been more divided;
    those with ideological opposition to "market forces" seeking to derail clinical commissioning "on principle", whilst simultaenously "G.P.preneurs"- I believe from DDRB data about 90 around the country with multiple medical and pharmacy contracts do earn the kind of figure the "Daily Mail" bandies as the GP norm rather than the extreme outlier result.
    Although I hate to generalise, as some are rural dispening practices unable to be excused 24 hour responsibility, some undoubtedly have embraced the free market ethos of the previous 3 Conservative, 3 Labour and current coalition governments.
    Add in the "profit sharing partner" vs salaried vs sessional performer tensions we see around us on finances, education, revalidation and the reality of leadership becomes clear.
    You can only lead people in the general direction that those following wish to go.
    We are currently a divided profession and unable to give a unifying manadate of support to our leaders.

    I defy anyone without messianic personal attributes to be an effective leader of this riven profession.

    This is the time to build common purpose in the GP grass roots and reflect on the core values of our profession.
    If we can agree an agenda we would all be in agreement to follow, then I suspect you would find our leaders to be most effective

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  • Too many professionals are involved in commissioning so it would not work?

    I do 2 sessions a week working for my local CCG, but I for one am ready to stop that if it means getting a fair deal for my day job, which pays my bills and feeds my family. We got all this rubbish from the GPC at the last pathetic inconsequential action over pensions.

    Something fishy going on behind the scenes I feel...

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