By Alisdair Stirling
The leader of a rebel group of salaried GPs and locums who planned to split from the BMA has hailed the creation of the GPC's new sessional GP subcommittee as a 'leap in the right direction' after nearly 50 GPs put themselves forward for election to it.
The GPC has received 46 nominations for elections to the new enlarged sessional GP subcommittee, which was set up in a bid to head off growing disenfranchisement among salaried and locum GPs.
The committee's size is set to double to 16 members in total, four of whom will have permanent places on the GPC. The measure follows a GPC report that included a survey of more than 1,800 sessional GPs and a review of the way they are represented at LMC and national level.
Ballot papers containing the names of the 46 candidates will be sent out in mid-October to all salaried and locum GPs, whether they are members of the BMA or not. Elections for the committee will be conducted so that each region of England is represented, as well as the devolved nations.
The GPC report was prompted by a threat from the National Association of Sessional GPs to split away from the BMA, forming an alternative representative body in conjunction with the Medical Practitioners' Union.
But Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the NASGP and an MPU representative on the GPC, this week backed the BMA's move to reach out to sessional GPs.
'Currently, sessional GPs are under-represented and so our employers are making political decisions for us, despite the obvious conflict of interest in employers representing their own employees,' he told Pulse.
'But if all goes well, these changes could mean for the first time in the BMA's history that salaried and locum GPs have at least some autonomy within the BMA. Not quite independent representation, but it's a leap in the right direction.'
Dr Una Coales, a locum GP in Stockwell, south London, also backed the move.
'It will be great to have proper representation on the GPC,' she said. 'On Lambeth LMC there was just me and one other locum and all the issues that came up were partnership issues - so I resigned. Now that something like 20% of GPs are locums and 22% are salaried, it's about time we had a proper say.'
Dr Vicky Weeks, chair of the BMA´s sessional GP subcommittee, said the newly enlarged body would play a 'fundamental role in articulating the voice of grassroots GPs'.
'I am delighted that so many people have put themselves forward,' she said. 'I strongly urge everyone to use their vote so that their opinions and views are represented on the new committee.'Dr Richard Fieldhouse: 'Not quite independent representation, but it's a leap in the right direction' Dr Richard Fieldhouse: 'Not quite independent representation, but it's a leap in the right direction'
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