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Independents' Day

Two-week deadline to renegotiate GPs' future

GP negotiators have been given two weeks to rewrite the GMS contract to meet a June 23 Government deadline for a ballot result.

The move is a high-risk gamble by the GPC, which has opted to defy an instruction by last week's crisis LMC conference for a six-month ballot delay to allow negotiators time to 'revise and re-examine' the contract.

GP negotiators were livid

after the knife-edge LMC vote threatened to put the entire future of the deal in jeopardy.

But the day after the vote, GPC members opted to heed negotiators' dire warnings that missing the June deadline was not an option.

They were told it would mean GPs seeing a massive cut in their pay rise and forfeiting the out-of-hours and additional services opt-outs.

The GPC cut the six-month delay to two weeks and told negotiators to convince the Government to set an early date for a switch to registered lists and to weight quality pay according to practice disease prevalence.

The GPC will reconvene for an emergency meeting next week to thrash out the next steps. The three-week ballot would have to open immediately after the May 29 session to achieve a result in time.

The GPC's reversal is a hammer-blow to LMCs, which had backed GPC members Dr Fay Wilson and Dr Gillian Braunold's motion demanding a far longer delay.

Dr Wilson told the conference GPs should not be 'stampeded' into a vote on a contract which is 'riven with disastrous flaws'. She said: 'We need no MPIG. We need a simplified quality framework. We do not need 107 targets.

'We do not need something that will ruin the profession and we will have to come back in two years to renegotiate.'

After a debate which split the profession down the

middle, the proposal was passed by 139 to 128 votes, with a rider giving the GPC power to decide the length of the delay.

Dr John Chisholm, GPC chair, told representatives a six-month hold-up would 'lead to your pay rise being slashed from 12 per cent to 3 per


After the vote, ministers made clear the Scottish legislative timetable meant GPs had only until mid-June to cast their vote, or the contract could be delayed until April 2005 at the earliest.

Is two weeks long enough to

get the contract right?

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