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Buckman scotches commissioning boycott ‘rumours’

Exclusive: The GPC has poured cold water on calls from LMC secretaries for a commissioning boycott, as it awaits final details of the formal consultation on the GP contract from the Department of Health.

Pulse has learnt that GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman has scotched ‘rumours’ of a boycott at the LMC Secretaries Conference, adding that there were too many professionals involved in commissioning and so a boycott ‘wouldn’t work’.

As revealed earlier this week, a number of LMCs raised the possibility of GPs withdrawing from commissioning work or working to rule at the conference.

But GP leaders attending the event said no one was ‘raring for a fight’ and that Dr Buckman had laid out the reasons why a boycott would be problematic in practice, although he fell short of ruling it out completely.

At the conference, the GPC announced they expect to receive details from the DH next week which will contain all the final details of the contract deal being imposed on GPs.

The DH had said they would begin the formal consultation on the changes they want to impose this month, but the Statement of Financial Entitlements has yet to be published.

Dr Buckman said they were invited to a meeting with the DH to discuss the GP contract but had declined to attend.

Dr John Hughes, secretary of Manchester LMC said: ‘The message from Laurence was that a boycott wasn’t the way to go, because we want something people would support.

‘The atmosphere of the conference was subdued and depressed. I got no impression that people were raring to go, raring for a fight. Perhaps when they see this letter from the Government they might be, but not at the moment.’

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs, said Dr Buckman discussed the practical reasons why a boycott would be difficult.

He said: ‘Commissioning was not thought to be a number one strategy because of the downsides.

‘Commissioning is important; poor commissioning harms GPs in jobs, and there is a need to influence commissioning in the community to provide good services for patients.’

‘The GPC hope that there’ll be a better course of action they can take’ he added.

But Dr Mohammed Jiva, secretary of Rotherham and Bury LMC, said a boycott of commissioning was still possible.

He said: ‘Dr Buckman said was that there was information coming out about a boycott but we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. All the cards are still on the table.’

Dr Buckman confirmed that the GPC have not explicitly decided against a boycott: ‘We haven’t ruled it out. We haven’t ruled anything out.’ he said.