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Highs and lows: The 1990 contract

Dr George Rae, chair of the BMA's north-east regional council and a GP in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, remembers the turmoil that followed the new GP contract in 1990.

The political turmoil in 1990 caused by Kenneth Clarke's decision to impose a new contract was a low point for the profession.

We at the GMSC rejected the contract, but he decided to push forward with it anyway, and I first heard about it on the radio.

It caused huge antagonism between the medical profession and the Department of Health.

Then there was the internal market and the purchaser/provider split. It led to a BMA campaign with posters of Kenneth Clarke saying 'What do you call a politician who won't listen to medical advice?'

The relationship only began to improve with the introduction of out-of-hours cooperatives in the mid-nineties.

1990 was a real nadir for the profession.

Dr George Rae