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Joint chair candidates pledge to rethink GPC’s ‘fighting and resistance’ approach

Two leading female GPs have declared their joint candidacy to be the next GPC chair – and have promised a change of tack in negotiations to move away from what they described as the GPC’s current ‘fighting and resistance’ strategy.

Londonwide LMC chair Dr Michelle Drage, a former GPC negotiatior, and West Midlands GPC representative Dr Fay Wilson, a former chair of the LMCs conference, announced today they will be standing as joint candidates. They join GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and negotiators Dr Chaand Nagpaul and Dr Dean Marshall as contenders for the role which will be vacated by Dr Laurence Buckman in two weeks’ time.

Nominations for the vacancy close tomorrow and the new chair will be elected by a vote of GPC members at its next meeting.

The joint candidates told Pulse that the GPC’s approach in recent years had failed to secure real gains for GPs.

Dr Wilson said: ‘The approach we have at the moment, and the last few years, has been one of fighting a war of attrition and of trying to prevent a chipping away. We are looking at whether we can leapfrog over that.’

‘We’ve both done quite a lot of negotiating in the past and one of the issues is trying to find out where the other side is trying to get to and help them to help you. We want to make gains and not just prevent a chipping away. It’s a fundamentally different approach to saying “we are going to fight to defend”.’

She added: ‘If you start off with an agenda that “we are going to fight”, then you are committed to fighting. We are going to solve problems.’

Dr Drage said she expected the Government to listen to a new approach because it is ‘desperate’ – and insisted the new strategy would not involve more compromise.

‘We are trying to focus on the bigger picture and not just about the contract as it was,’ she said. It’s about the future of general practice, engagement with the LMCs and making sure that everyone understands what general practice is about and gets the support it deserves rather than years focusing on the minutiae. It’s not about a future of compromise, it’s about the future of general practice.’

The joint candidacy comes after recent criticism of the lack of female representation on the GPC negotiating team, with the LMCs conference voting in May in favour of a full investigation into why none of the seven UK-wide negotiators at the time were women. However earlier this week Dr Charlotte Jones was elected as chair of GPC Wales, ensuring there will be at least one female negotiator when the new team takes over later this month.