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Trapped by our surgery loans ­ but there may be a way out

No one could accuse Pulse of wearing rose-tinted spectacles when reporting on the new GMS contract, but I do wonder if you need some visual aid to correct your reading of statistics (News, December 6).

You say 44 per cent of the GPs who responded to your survey preferred the old Red Book. What about the other 56 per cent? Presumably they prefer the new contract. Your Comment states 'many GPs do expect good pay rises' but where is this mentioned in your reports of life under the new contract or the beneficial effects on their pensions?

For many GPs one of the biggest cuts in workload is the handing over of out-of-hours responsibility to the local primary care organisation, yet you remain silent on this point. You report that 31 per cent of family doctors feel they are working less productively, rather than the fact that the majority of GPs feel there is either no deterioration or, in the case of 29 per cent, things have got better and they are working more productively.

I have never claimed that the new national contract was perfect. I do not want GPs to work longer and harder or have battles with their PCO over monies that are due to them. We will continue to fight on GPs' behalf at both national and local levels to make sure life gets better.

The BMA negotiators have consistently said practices will only feel the full benefits after the first two or three years as the value of Q&O points rise.

The GPC negotiators have just finished touring the UK talking to LMCs about local implementation of the GMS contract and the profession's perception of how things are developing. To put it bluntly, the black picture you paint does not match what they reported.

Is it too much to ask for recognition that a change as large as the new contract takes time to be assimilated? When the contract is judged over a longer period than the first eight months, perhaps even Pulse will let a glimmer of optimism shine through its otherwise negative perceptions.

Dr Hamish Meldrum

Chair, GPC

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