By Gareth Iacobucci
GPs in Scotland have rejected calls for a separate Scottish contract, as a GPC negotiator warned that there was increasing pressure to break up the UK-wide deal from across the four nations.
In a lively debate at the Scottish LMCs conference in Clydebank, a motion calling on the Scottish GPC to ‘work with the Government to determine the feasibility of a new Scottish GP contract’ was defeated, despite vociferous calls to consider for a stand-alone Scottish deal in light of the NHS reforms in England.
It came as negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash revealed the UK GPC is also facing calls for separate contracts in Wales and Northern Ireland, but maintained that a UK-wide deal gave the GPC more strength in negotiations.
Dr Sandy Sutherland, a GP in Lothian who proposed the motion, said he felt the move for a separate contract was now ‘inevitable’ in light of the proposals set out in the Health and Social Care Bill in England.
Dr Sutherland said: ‘Politically we are diverging. Depending on the will of voters [in Scotland] we could diverge further. This has been the elephant in the room for too long. Surely now SGPC is mature enough to let go of the big boy’s hand?’
But others warned that breaking off from the UK-wide deal could see Scottish GPs losing out in the future.
Dr Gerald Burnett, a member of Fife LMC, said: ‘It would result in us falling behind. We’d be a very easy target for a Scottish Government to drive down costs. We would do very badly financially.’
The debate came as Dr McCarron-Nash admitted the pressure to split up the UK-wide contract had been a stumbling block in recent contract talks.
Speaking at Pulse’s Finance Skills for Challenging Times seminar in London, she said: ‘One of the sticking points has been the ideology of whether we should have a UK-wide contract. It’s been difficult in negotiations.’
‘Wales is very keen to have a contract that reflects the socialism of its health service. Northern Ireland is in meltdown and just gone in to purdah. There are elections going on in the devolved administrations and a lot of that interferes with the negotiations.
‘Maintaining a UK contract gives us much more strength when going into negotiations. It’s important to maintain that.’
Credit: Flickr Odolphie Scottish GPs reject calls for separate contract Pulse seminars