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Buckman warns Tories: ‘We won’t take back out-of-hours’

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has drawn a line in the sand in the wake of increasingly vociferous calls for GPs to take back control of out-of-hours care, vowing not to agree to any renegotiation of the GMS contract.

In a forceful riposte to growing calls for reform following the intense media coverage of the Daniel Ubani case, Dr Buckman attacked what he called ‘another irritating attempt to rewrite history’ and condemned criticism from politicians ‘scheming for votes’.

And he warned the Conservative party, who have made a pledge to hand responsibility for commissioning out-of-hours care back to GPs a central strand of their health manifesto, ‘we are not about to renegotiate the GMS contract with anyone.’

The Government last week pledged to introduce a national model contract and tougher minimum standards for PCTs to use when procuring out of hours services, after an official report into the standard of GP out-of-hours care revealed ‘unacceptable variation’ around the country. But health minister Mike O’Brien ruled out making it compulsory for GPs to commission out-of-hours.

Dr Buckman said that while he backed moves to give GPs a greater role in advising commissioners in setting up out-of-hours services, he would not agree to transfer full power back into GPs’ hands.

He said: ‘Can I get this clear: we are not about to renegotiate the GMS contract (or the PMS contracts that flow from it) with anyone.’

‘Things may well evolve as they always do but I am not going to see a reasonable attempt at improving the healthcare of the British people messed up by the ignorant or those scheming for votes.’

Dr Buckman added: ‘Furthermore, GPC will not negotiate a return to responsibility for delivering OOH. We think GPs should be involved in giving advice to the commissioners of the service and we have offered to help ministers in this regard.’

‘We have several GPC members who are or have been actively involved in delivering OOH services, as well as LMC secretaries and chairmen who have ideas as to how this could be done. The offer has been taken up and I will let everyone know more when there is more news.’

Dr Laurence Buckman Read the full letter

Please click here to read the full text of Dr Buckman’s comments.