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Rural and deprived area GPs quit the BMA over new Scottish contract

A group of GPs from rural and deprived practices in Scotland have written an open letter to the BMA saying they plan to resign over its failure to represent their interests in the new contract.

The 10 signatories who include Dr David Hogg, chair of the Rural GP Association, say they have already quit BMA, plan to do so in the near future or are seriously considering it because they feel there has been a ‘serious breach of trust’.

It comes a month after the contract was given the green light after a ballot in which 72% voted in favour of accepting the deal.

But the letter, also signed by GPs working in some Deep End practices points out that with only 28% of practising GPs voting ‘the contract was not endorsed by the majority’.

It also raises concerns that ‘key information about the formula was deliberately withheld from Scottish GPs’, stating that information about the relative impact of the workload allocation formula on rural and deprived practices was not made available.

‘Practices in the greatest need receive no additional resources while those that are already relatively well resourced (including those of the negotiators) will receive all the financial benefits,’ the letter says.

The ambitious contract, which would set Scottish GPs on a different path to the rest of the UK, will see direct reimbursement of practice and staff expenses, a move away from GPs owning premises and a focus on the GP as an expert medical generalist at the head of a multidisciplinary team.

A second round of negotiations, focusing on direct reimbursement and GP pay will begin in 2020 and will be subject to a second poll.

In the strongly worded letter, the group of GPs say the new funding formula does not address unmet need in practices with high levels of deprivation it will also have ‘devastating effects’ on remote rural practices.

It concludes that the BMA has been a ‘weak advocate’ for general practice.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of Scotland’s GP Committee said the new GP contract was given ‘clear backing by the profession’.

‘The new contract will reduce the business risks faced by GPs, address spiralling workload demands, and help to encourage more doctors to choose careers in general practice.

‘It addresses the relative underfunding of practice workloads associated with elderly and deprived populations, while ensuring that the finances of every practice are protected.’

He added it was always regrettable when any doctor chooses to end their BMA membership and hoped in time they would reconsider.