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LMC forces CCGs to back down over ‘totally unacceptable’ inter-practice agreements

An LMC has claimed a major victory in the fight against draconian inter-practice agreements being imposed on GP practices, after winning a series of key amendments to proposed local contracts.

GPs across four CCGs on Humberside were asked to sign agreements which would have allowed the expulsion of practices without appeal and could have forced them to identify sick or failing GPs to other practices .

The row follows a warning by legal experts last month that some CCGs are now requiring GP practice staff members to sign inter-practice agreements committing them to follow CCG policy.

Dr Russell Walshaw, chief executive of East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire LMC, told Pulse that agreements proposed by four CCGs contained the phrase ‘It is expected that practice will…' followed by a list of bullet-points on practice performance-management.

Dr Walshaw said: ‘The interpractice agreements were addendums to the constitution. As it was, they could expel practices and there was no question they could defend themselves.'

‘The way cases of sick or failing doctors were to be handled would mean their identities would have been exposed to the whole council of members. They were totally unacceptable.'

‘However after representations, they have acceded to our wishes and have made amendments to the agreements. Practices need to know they can have these agreements looked at by BMA lawyers via the LMC. This sort of thing will be happening all over the country.'

East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire LMC has now submitted a strongly-worded motion to next month's LMCs conference warning practices are ‘being pressurised into signing inter-practice agreeements prematurely' and calling for greater scrutiny.

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of the GPC's commissioning and service development subcommittee, said: ‘Some CCGs seem to think they can just write what they want and practices have to sign it. CCGs have no statutory responsibility to look at individual GPs' performance. They´re not the police and they haven´t got the sanctions.

"There are lots of really good CCGs around but some people involved in them seem to just go native and forget what their role is."

A spokesperson for North Linconlshire CCG said: ‘The Humber Cluster developed an interim constitution to support the aims of the four CCGs. The four CCG councils of members each made significant changes to their own draft document producing separate versions.

East Riding CCG, Hull CCG and North Lincolnshire CCG said agreements had now been signed after amendments, while North East Lincolnshire CCG said it was in the process of developing a separate constitution.