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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Welsh on-call set for radical reform

Since when have GPC negotiators – the ones who delivered a pay rise and better pensions – been 'more worried about the potential impact on PCTs' budgets than GPs getting money that is rightfully theirs'? This must surely be one of the most absurd claims ever to appear in a Pulse editorial comment (March 5).

Dr Cornel Fleming won his case against Islington PCT to claim a full year's PGEA following the start of the new contract. We have looked at the details of this particular legal ruling to check its relevance to all GPs and to see if this could set a precedent or whether this ruling is specific to this particular doctor. The whole crux of this matter hinges upon whether PGEA was paid annually in arrears or not. Following legal advice and internal discussions, it has been agreed that the ruling cannot be applied generically to all GPs because:

•It would not apply to PMS GPs who have different arrangements and is not likely to apply to new GPs post 1990/1, but more importantly...

•It would only apply to those who could present evidence themselves that they had been paid in arrears, and

•We know of other GPs who can provide evidence that they had not been paid in arrears.

The only way to take a class action would be to have a large group of GPs all of whom could provide evidence that they had been paid annually, in arrears.

In order to undertake negotiations on this with the Department of Health we would have to demonstrate that it was the case that all GMS GPs at the time were paid annually, in arrears. However, we are not remotely sure that this is the case and, in fact, have considerable evidence to the contrary.

Dr Fleming's case does not set a precedent for all doctors to claim this money, but it does indicate that any other GP in the same situation may be successful in a challenge. The GPC will be producing further guidance to help GPs who may be in this position.

Dr Hamish Meldrum

Chair, GPC

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