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GP leaders vote for substantial changes to health bill

By Laura Passi

GP leaders have demanded further changes to the health bill – including the removal of quality premiums for GPs – but have backed away from a overall policy of ‘non-cooperation’ with the reforms.

Delegates at the LMCs conference in London voted that the Health and Social Care Bill was the ‘greatest threat to the NHS since its inception’, but rejected a call for non-cooperation with the reforms and a ballot of all GPs in England asking whether they are happy to be in GP commissioning consortia.

LMC leaders did support motions demanding that the health bill is clarifed to state whether a GP’s primary responsibility is to patients or to commissioning consortia, and amended to remove any mechanism that would force GPs to make ‘financially motivated decisions’ about patient care.

The vote to remove quality premium payments from the health bill will please the GPC leadership, who have argued the payments are ‘unethical’.

Dr Simon Hodson, from Shropshire LMC, said the health bill would have a drastic effect on trust in GPs and should be changed.

‘The doctor-patient relationship is based on trust. Will this trust be maintained when the GP is responsible for withdrawing the services they need?’

Dr Paul Hobday, from Kent LMC, also argued against the health bill: ‘Do you remember that poster: “What did you do in the war, Daddy?” – I sat by and saw Dr Death destroy something we used to call the NHS.’

‘Do you want your children to live under an American system? More is spent per person, double than here, but it is ranked 37 by the WHO. What about that outcome, Mr Lansley?’

After a barnstorming address to the conference in which he demanded more than a ‘respray job’ on the health bill by the Government, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman persuaded delegates to reject a motion urging that ‘GPs should no longer cooperate with introducing the changes’.

Dr Buckman said: ‘Non-cooperation at this stage, in the middle of a listening exercise, would seem to make our situation worse. That’s not to say this might not be our situation after the results of the bill going through parliament. At this moment I don’t think this a position we could accept because we really don’t know.’

LMC delegates debated the Government’s controversial NHS reforms LMC delegates debated the Government’s controversial NHS reforms Click here for more from the LMCs Conference LMC