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Scottish GPs reject call to break up UK GP contract

GPs in Scotland have rejected proposals to entirely sever their ties with the UK GP contract, but have not ruled out separate negotiations in future.

The Scottish LMC conference voted to reject a motion from Ayrshire and Arran LMC that highlighted the ‘growing divergence’ between the NHS in England and Scotland and asked the conference to welcome moves towards a Scottish GP contract.

The news comes as Scottish GPC negotiated unprecedented variations to the GP contract in 2013/14, after negotiations broke down over the UK contract last year.

Presenting the motion, Dr Malcolm Kerr, chair of Ayrshire and Arran LMC chair said although the BMA was a ‘highly effective trade union’ there had been a dramatic divergence of the two countries since devolution.

He said: ‘It is hard to see how blind adherence to a UK contract negotiation can or should survive these changes. We need a contract which is embedded in the Scottish NHS and its developing priorities, and we need not to be an afterthought to UK negotiations.’

But Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt asked the conference to reject the motion, referring to Scotland’s independence bid instead as a marker for when the timing might be right to sever ties.

He said: ‘We are not an afterthought to UK negotiations, I am embedded in the UK negotiating team and am there to represent your interests.

‘We also have as we have demonstrated this year that if there are parts of the contract for UK and England that we in Scotland don’t want, we can change them. That is a good position to be in.’

‘It maintains UK solidarity of the profession, as far as we can do that, and if there are things we can’t stand, then with a cooperative Government we can deal with that. So I think we have to be very careful in discussions of an actual Scottish contract.’

‘I think we should continue as we do now and negotiate changes with the Scottish Government. So I have to say, I would ask you to reject this.’

Following a vote to reject the motion, which was not unanimous, the conference instead backed  a motion from Dumfries and Galloway that the contract should continue to be negotiated at a UK level but allow variation in devolved nations.

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