The LMC conference has voted against a motion calling for GPC to take legal action against the Government over the GP contract imposition.
After a lively debate, the conference voted down the motion calling on the GPC ‘investigate the legality of these actions through the European Courts and to take legal action against the Department of Health wherever this is possible’.
This followed an intervention from the GPC, including by finance committee chair Dr John Canning, who declared that the BMA could not afford such a lawsuit. He said that even investigating whether there was a legal claim to be made would cost ‘five-figure sums’ in legal fees.
Dr Canning said: ‘Employing lawyers to look at this would cost us, and it would cost us five-figure sums, which I just don’t think that we could justify’.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, also urged caution in supporting this motion.
Dr Alan Mills, Cambridgeshire LMC chair, said: ‘Do we really want to take the DH to court? Do we not want to bring them back to the negotiating table? Dragging them through the European courts will not achieve this.’
Bringing the motion, Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggit said GPs are ‘not owned’ by politicians.
He said: ‘The GPC has spoken to deaf ears to a Government with an agenda… The contract imposition removes the voice of the GPC [and] removes our ability to protect ourselves against [ill thought-out changes]. The government has showed disregard for the safety check of negotiations [and] it is a ticking time bomb. I fear Mid Staffs was the tip of the iceberg.’
‘Voting for the return to bilateral negotiations is obvious but let us taker this further. Let us vote for freedom to care for our patients, free of targets. And finally, let us take this to the European courts if we must. We are not owned by politicians.’
The conference did vote in favour of ‘deploring’ the unilateral Government approach to the contract process and to urge for a return to bilateral negotiations.