Editorial: LMCs set the GPC a tough challenge

National coverage may have led the casual reader/viewer/listener to believe the most interesting debate at the 2014 LMCs conference in York was about whether GPs should charge patients for appointments.

In this issue of GP, on pages 22 and 23, our analysis assesses what the event means for GPs and the extent of the challenge it sets the GPC for the coming year.

In the end, the debate about whether GPs should charge £10 to £25 for a patient appointment was lost. Had it been grandstanding, making more of something than it actually deserved, to magnify a political point?

Certainly it underlines elements of both the BMA's Your GP Cares and the RCGP's Put Patients First campaigns, namely that there is a funding crisis in primary care and the percentage of the NHS budget that is being spent in general practice needs to rise.

Had the proposal been accepted, however, it did run the risk of making a mockery of both those campaigns and their catchphrases.

In last fortnight's issue, our splash (MPIG losers face takeover, GP, 26 May) also highlighted the funding crisis in primary care and raised the question of whether this situation actually suited the government, because it would enable private providers to take over failing practices.

This is emotive stuff. But it may be of some comfort to those communities that face losing their GP practice to know that at least there is a private provider waiting in the wings, seeking to continue to offer a primary care service for the local community.

Let us know your views about this and any other matters, at GPletters@haymarket.com

What have the LMCs put on the GPC's to-do list for the next 12 months? GPs attending the conference feared CCG control of practice contracts and performance management. There will also be increasing pressure to improve primary care's share of the NHS budget.

As our analysis finds, from the scale of the challenge identified by LMCs, the GPC has a tough task to find answers to the current crisis.

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