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Gold, incentives and meh

Trading of goodwill moves cause schism among GPs

The Government's decision to allow trading of goodwill will fragment general practice, jeopardise GP recruitment and damage patient care, LMCs ruled.

But a lively debate over the issue revealed deep splits in GP opinion with only a narrow majority of LMC representatives eventually voting to condemn the change.

Dr Aneez Esmail, a salaried GP in Manchester, attacked the Government as 'arrogant', arguing it had held a mistaken belief that the only way of improving care was through competition.

Supporting it would ignore the principles the NHS was founded on and the reason most GPs had become doctors, he said.

'Primary care is the jewel in the crown of the NHS,' he said. 'What would this give the NHS apart from the high cost of buying into practice?'

Derbyshire LMC chair Dr John Grenville said sale of goodwill would lead to a two-tier system, and Dr Tony Stanton of Londonwide LMCs added it amounted to 'the introduction of US health care in the UK'.

GPC chair Dr John Chis-holm said negotiators were angry at the change, but added he believed the law was here to stay and would even be extended to essential services.

But many GPs said goodwill was traded in other service industries and there was no reason why it need not be welcomed in general practice.

Dr K. Naidoo from Sefton LMC said: 'This should totally be embraced.'

GPC member Dr Grant Kelly dismissed fears private firms would cherry-pick services.

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