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July 15 D-day for GPC chair candidates –

Joe Lepper and Ian Cameron report

The battle to become chair of the GPC is too close to call after committee members said there was little to choose between the two candidates.

GPC members said this week's run-off between Dr Laurence Buckman and Dr Hamish Meldrum would be won on personality as the two GPs' manifestos had revealed only tiny differences on policy.

The decision will hinge on whether GPs prefer the 'flamboyance' of Dr Buckman or the 'considered' style of Dr Meldrum as their new leader, one member said.

Dr Meldrum, deputy chair of the committee, had been seen as the front runner to replace outgoing chair Dr John Chisholm but of a dozen GPC members who spoke to Pulse, most said they would be happy with either.

Dr Ron Singer said he didn't think there was a clear favourite in the race.

'Laurence is someone who will lead with their chin and their heart, whereas Hamish will hold his cards close to his chest and be a bit inscrutable,' he said. 'If it's about someone who can play the media game Laurence may be more qualified than Hamish.'

Dr Fay Wilson said the GPC tended to be conservative but the vote was harder to predict because there were a number of new members.

She said: 'If they want to move up a gear they will probably be looking for Laurence.'

Both candidates have emphasised the need to improve relations and communication with grass-roots GPs. They have also pledged to act on criticisms from the GPC's new GMS review task group.

One key difference between the two is on leadership. Dr Buckman said the GPC chair should be 'chief negotiator' rather than the leader of a team. Dr Meldrum said he would delegate where possible.

•Three GPs are standing for the two vacant negotiator positions on the GPC. They are Dr Gillian Braunold, Dr Stewart Drage, both from London, and Dr Richard Vautrey from Leeds.

Buckman v Meldrum

Dr Laurence Buckman

•More roadshows and quarterly meetings with LMC secretaries

•Defend interests of GPs first, patients second, NHS third

•Greater openness within GPC

•More analysis, more strategic thinking

Dr Hamish Meldrum

•Release accessible information to a wider audience on time

•Address deficiencies in new contract

•Better support to LMCs

•Leadership through getting the best out of people and listening

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