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Historic vote heralds end of UK-wide contract

LMC representatives in Scotland have voted for the first time in favour of an entirely separate Scottish GP contract, in a move that could have serious ramifications for the future of UK-wide contract negotiations.

GP leaders warned that abandoning a national contract would run ‘huge risks’,but last month’s Scottish LMCs conference voted to go beyond the ‘tartanisation’ of the GMS contract seen in recent years and opt for a Scotland-only deal.

The motion at the conference in Clydebank, carried by a small majority, read: ‘That this conference, given the increasing divide between GMS in England and Scotland, calls on Scottish GPC to move towards a Scottish GP contract.’

The vote gives the Scottish GPC a mandate to discuss a separate Scottish GP contract, potentially shattering the UK-wide GP agreement, already weakened in recent years as negotiators from the four nations have thrashed out very different versions of the national deal with their respective governments.

Dr Dean Marshall, former chair of the GPC Scotland and now a UK negotiator, urged delegates to vote down the motion, as they had in the previous three years.

He said: ‘I think we need to think about the longer term – there are huge risks in this. We need to be very careful.’

But in a reversal of his previous position, Scottish GPC chair Dr Alan McDevitt called on delegates to support the motion.

Last year, Dr McDevitt argued that a joint approach ‘maintains UK solidarity of the profession’, but this year he said: ‘This motion allows room for manoeuvre and is in keeping with the policy and realpolitik of where we are at.

‘So, in that sense, I would ask you to accept it. It doesn’t say we have to have a separate Scottish contract, but [refers to] moving towards a Scottish contract.’