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GPC to call for health bill withdrawal

The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee is to make a standalone call for the withdrawal of the health bill, with GPC members warning that Andrew Lansley’s ‘dangerous’ NHS reforms will damage GP commissioning.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman is expected to write to the profession tomorrow formally stating the committee’s outright opposition to the health bill after members passed a motion on the new position at a GPC meeting yesterday.

The statement will confirm that the GPC, the national representative committee for all GPs, is now opposed to the bill, with the BMA’s previous call for the bill to be scrapped being made after a vote by BMA Council – which only covers doctors who are members of the union.

The move, which has been shrouded in secrecy, was described by one member as ‘a massive step’, given the GPC’s support for the principal of clinical commissioning and its representative role for all GPs rather than simply BMA members.

Dr Helena McKeown, GPC members and a GP in Salisbury, told Pulse: ‘This is a massive step. GPC is a part of the BMA but we have not specifically called for withdrawal of the bill until now.

‘We represent commissioning GPs and feel that clinical commissioning is a good thing – we stayed at the table in terms of trying to modify the most destructive elements of the bill as far as possible.

‘We tried to play this fine line, more [so] even than the BMA itself, in terms of our role in clinical commissioning and it has got us nowhere.’

Dr McKeown warned that the NHS reforms are ‘dangerous’ for both GP commissioners and grassroots GPs.

‘It is important that we are coming out with a clear statement that even at this late stage a modified bill would be dangerous to our GP commissioners because it puts them in a very difficult place if they run out of budget and it will destroy doctor-patient trust.

‘It is dangerous to all of us as GPs and we are all going to have to take part contractually in CCGs,’ she said.

The BMA press office confirmed a letter to the profession will be issued tomorrow detailing the GPC’s health bill opposition. The letter will include full details of the motion passed at yesterday’s GPC meeting.