Exclusive Several LMCs have suspended funding for the organisation that financially backs the BMA’s GP Committee, Pulse has learned.
Earlier this month, Pulse revealed that a leaked document has urged LMCs to consider suspending their levy to the GP Defence Fund (GPDF).
The GPDF is a limited company that collects money from LMCs to support GP interests, including via funding provided to the BMA to run the GPC and for organising LMC conferences.
LMCs currently pay a voluntary ‘quota’ or levy of 3p per head of patient population, which totalled £1,946,375 in payments to the GPDF in 2021, according to its annual report.
But Pulse has learned that several LMCs have decided to withdraw their contributions to the GPDF, with others considering following suit – meaning the GPC’s funding could see cuts.
Londonwide LMCs said that ‘a number’ of LMCs ‘have shared that they have already given the GPDF Board notice that they are suspending their quota payments’, including Surrey and Sussex; Northumberland; and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire.
It added that ‘others are actively considering action’.
And it said that its own executive team and board of directors ‘are recommending that London LMCs suspend quota payments to the GPDF whilst we consider the best way to use the funds currently contributed for the direct benefit of London GPs and their teams’.
It added: ‘As the largest contributor to the Fund and noting the excess of reserves currently held at this time of crisis for general practice, Londonwide LMCs will take some time, in consultation with London members, to consider possible next steps beginning with suspension of the annual £260k+ payment contributed by London LMCs.’
Londonwide LMCs said this comes after a number of its staff and nominated representatives attended the GPDF annual general meeting (AGM) on 9 September but received ‘unsatisfactory’ responses to their questions on its finances and use of practices’ payments.
It said: ‘The responses given were unsatisfactory and have led Londonwide LMCs and a number of other LMCs across the UK to question the probity and financial management of the Fund.’
Surrey and Sussex LMCs chief executive Dr Julius Parker told local GPs that the LMCs would suspend their payment of the levy given the ‘concerns’ highlighted in the leaked document earlier this month.
In a letter to all the LMCs’ members last week, seen by Pulse, Dr Parker said: ‘As colleagues will know, the SSLMC office has had concerns about the effectiveness and value for money of GPDF for some while.
‘The Executive Board and I believe, given the concerns that are reflected in this document, SSLMCs should suspend payment of our GPDF levy until these are addressed by the GPDF board – if in fact this is possible with the current board in place.’
He added: ‘The LMC will reserve this levy collection for the time being and keep each LMC updated. It is important for SSLMCs to be able to proactively respond to this situation, but it will also be on the agenda at each LMC meeting so colleagues can discuss this more fully, hopefully with further information.’
Londonwide LMCs said it understands GPDF chair Dr Dougy Moederle-Lumb will be ‘making a full statement by the weekend’.
It added: ‘It’s unclear whether that statement will address the various points made in the document circulated to LMCs last week but we obviously hope that he will comment on the funding/representation disparity, and we will update practices in due course.’
Pulse has approached the GPDF for comment.
The leaked document entitled ‘Is GPDF Defending GPs?’, shared with all LMCs and seen by Pulse, heavily criticised the organisation and said it has ‘amassed significant reserves’ that are ‘indefensible’ in light of the ‘collapse of general practice, especially in England’.
It pointed to the BMA’s GP Committee being in ‘total disarray’ and suggested that ‘insufficient funding streams’ from GPDF to a ‘dysfunctional’ GPC England are behind ‘poor contractual outcomes in England which have led increasing numbers of GPs to leave partnership and in some cases hand back their contracts’.
Meanwhile, work is underway to explore the creation of a new representative body for GPs, in the form of a ‘National Association of LMCs’, amid dissatisfaction with the BMA.