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LMC calls for regional breakdown on Scottish contract vote

Highland LMC has warned that there is a split in Scotland between rural and urban practices, and is calling for a regional breakdown of the upcoming poll on the new GP contract.

Dr Iain Kennedy, medical secretary of the LMC, said he believed the BMA should publish a regional breakdown in the interest of ‘openness and transparency’.

However, he said that he thinks the BMA has shied away from this as it would ‘expose disunity’ in the profession.

The ballot on the proposed new GP contract opens on 7 December and GPs will have until 4 January to cast their vote. A Pulse survey last week revealed that there is a 50:50 split in support of the new contract.

The contract, announced last month, will see GP partners guaranteed a minimum annual salary of £80,000, a change in their role so they will lead multidisciplinary teams and a move towards the NHS taking over all GP premises.

But the Rural GP Association has already said that their members ‘unanimously’ oppose the contract, and have even said the contract could lead to the ‘extinction’ of general practice in some parts of Scotland.

Dr Kennedy, who is also a member of the Scottish GP Committee, said he would continue to push for a regional breakdown of the vote until the poll closes.

‘We have been inundated with concerns. I am certain the vote in Highland would be an overwhelming no vote,’ said Dr Kennedy.

He added that practices in Highland had already found solutions to many of the problems facing general practice and were concerned about loss of autonomy and the stripping of practice assets, including staff.

And while there were particular concerns about rural GPs, urban practices in the region were also unhappy with the proposed changes with a major issue around employment of clinical staff.

‘Our members at Highland LMC have made it absolutely clear to us that they have total lack of trust in our health board.’

It comes as a survey answered by 47 of 101 GPs in Argyll and Bute area found more than 70% of respondents were planning to vote no to the contract.

The survey, which was sent to all 31 practices in the area, found that 100% said the local health and social care partnership would not be able to recruit the additional staff needed by 2021.

There is also concern about the new funding formula, which rural practices say does not reflect their workload.

However, at a special LMC meeting in Glasgow, the majority of GP representatives agreed that the new contract addresses sustainable funding, reduced risk, attractiveness of the profession and reduced workload.

Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt said the process for the poll and question to be put to the profession was approved by the committee at a meeting in August

‘There was no request or discussion around regional breakdown of the poll results at this meeting and was based on the process for the previous contract.

‘We will be receiving results as a total and also broken down by type of GP – partner, sessional, trainee, etc.’