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Repeat prescription scheme 'unrealistic'

GPs in Sunderland are demanding their LMC members stand down immediately following a bitter row over allegations of 'undemocratic' committee elections.

In a poll of GPs in the city, staged by 13 GPs protesting at the LMC's decision to 'retrospectively cancel' elections in April, 101 out of 112 doctors voted for a new ballot.

The demand marks an escalation of a year-long row between the LMC and the group of GPs. The dispute began when the LMC was accused of failing to defend two doctors sacked by a PCT from its executive committee.

The 13 GPs then protested that some doctors standing for the LMC were excluded from elections in April after the existing members cancelled the ballot and appointed themselves unopposed.

The dispute is now set to rumble on into the new year at least after LMC chair Dr Ahmed Elsafy said members would not stand down now, but would hold new elections in early 2005.

Dr Rick Pinto Wright, one of the 13 GPs, said the poll results demonstrated the 'overwhelming lack of support for the LMC'.

In a letter sent with the ballot questions, the GPs attack-ed committee members for using LMC funds to instruct new lawyers to defend their

actions against a judicial review.

They also claimed the LMC had refused to consider a conciliation process that would be binding on all parties and had made no attempt to hold meetings to explain its actions.

Sunderland LMC said the GPs were excluded because its constitution did not allow PMS GPs who did not pay the voluntary levy to stand, but it was re-examining the rules.

Dr Elsafy said the LMC had no other means to defend a legal action other than with LMC funds.

'We are trying to have some negotiation so hopefully we can stop the legal action so we will not have to use LMC money,' he said. 'We want to end the problems so the community becomes one again,' he added.

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