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GPC negotiators yet to sign constitutions

Exclusive: GPC negotiators have so far refused to sign their CCG constitutions, as it emerged the BMA has consulted external lawyers to draw up new guidance for GPs on the legal documents.

Pulse can reveal that none of the four English negotiators has signed their local CCG’s constitution.

The new BMA guidance, to be unveiled this week, will build on points made in the initial check list that the association published in June. However, it has been written by external lawyers and is ‘much more thorough’ than the previous guidance, a GPC spokesperson said.

The guidance is expected to extend advice to GPs on how to prevent the constitutions from imposing further contractual responsibilities on practices, which the current legislation specifically prohibits. The GPC is negotiating with the Government to ensure this remains the case when secondary legislation is introduced. It comes after Pulse revealed last week that CCG constitutions will be legally binding on practices whether GPs sign them or not.

Dr Peter Holden, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, said he was awaiting publication of the guidance before signing his constitution. 

All the other negotiators confirmed that they had yet to sign their constitutions. GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said he ‘isn’t signing’ his constitution ‘even though there is nothing wrong with it’, but did not give his reasons why.

He said: ‘I am not going to sign it on principle, because I do not wish to sign it.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul’s practice in Stanmore, north London, has been involved in lengthy local debate over his local CCG’s constitution.

He said: ‘Our CCG constitution has improved considerably with LMC input and many issues have been resolved with amendments and deletion of clauses. Our practice is considering signing but has not yet done so, pending clarifying a couple of points – so to be fair there have been positive changes using GPC guidance/LMC input. We now have a formal role for the LMC in the constitution, including observer status at CCG board meetings.’

Dr Richard Vautrey’s practice in Leeds also has yet to sign a constitution but he said the CCG had closely involved the LMC and GP member practices in the process.

Dr Vautrey said there would still be opportunities between now and April to make changes to constitutions.

He said: ‘We have been involved in setting it out and it has been a very positive process. I would have thought my practice will sign it when the meeting takes place. 

‘Even if you have signed, there will be opportunities to make changes.’