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GPC to negotiate new fairer funding formula despite negotiators’ opposition

The GPC has been instructed by the LMCs conference to negotiate a new fairer funding formula for general practice by 2017, against the advice of negotiators.

After a lively debate on the motion, which called on the GPC to ‘expedite a fairer funding formula that can be introduced by 2017’, GPC negotiators called for it to be taken as a reference. However, the LMCs voted in favour by a margin of just 51% to 49%.

Negotiators warned that their hands would be tied by such a motion, and agreed that any change in funding formula ‘throws up winners and losers’.

Presenting the motion, Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson called for a formula that recognises the needs of the elderly, rural practices and practices in areas of social deprivation.

Dr Deborah Colvin, medical secretary of City and East London LMC, urged the conference to support practices in deprived areas, where patients are more likely to suffer mental health problems and health literacy is lower.

She said: ‘We must recognise the needs of the elderly, we must support rural practices. But we must also support practices in socially deprived areas if we truly want an NHS that offers and equal service to all.’

However, Bedfordshire LMC representative Dr Alex Smallwood opposed the motion as he said all formulas throw up winners and losers.

His line was supported by GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who asked the conference not to ‘tie the hands’ of the GPC at a time when other matters were more pressing for the GPC to focus on.

He said: ‘I don’t think it is wise to tie our hands to come up with something by 2017, as this motion does, when we have other priorities.

‘It is not a needs-based formula, it’s a work-based formula. These needs should be addressed outside the GP contract.’

However, Dr Colvin responded that social deprivation leads to increased workload for GPs.

After a tense electronic vote, the motion was carried.

The LMCs vote sends a a stronger message on GPs’ position on the controversial matter. The Government has already mandated NHS England to negotiate with the GPC. The GPC’s initial position was to refuse a renegotiation because it would be too destabilising to practices but opened up for talks with the Government following a vote of the GPC in January.