Letter: Power of GPC representatives has forced Confederation spin

Dear Editor

The front-page headline 'GMS correction factor to end' (GP, 13 January) is based on the report of a letter to primary care organisations(PCOs) from Dr Barbara Hakin, chairwoman of the NHS Confederation, which negotiates with GPC UK about the development of the GMS contract.

You quote her as writing that 'we have agreement that where relevant, increases to the global sum will reduce correction factor payments and support the phasing out of MPIG costs'.

You also state that 'GPC members have warned that if global sum funding increases are offset against cuts to correction factors, some practices will experience a real- term cut in core funding'.

This is not the understanding of Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of GPC UK.

In a letter he wrote (GP, 20 January) that 'there has been no departure from the original agreement that the principle of MPIG 'would remain for as long as it is necessary'.

All that has been discussed, Dr Meldrum said, is the possibility that there are sufficient resources, to increase the global sum to a greater degree than we might increase the correction factor to allow a gradual reduction in the reliance upon the correction factor'.

In other words, what has been discussed is the principal of levelling up core practice income, rather than levelling it down, which is the gist of Dr Hakin's reported letter.

New GMS is not perfect, but its implementation has significantly increased incomes of both GMS and PMS practices. We have been fortunate in the quality of our GPC representation.

The vision, drive and enterprise displayed by Dr John Chisholm is complemented by the steady calm persistence from his successor Dr Meldrum. They have ensured that GPs and practices are rightly rewarded for continuing effective concentrated clinical care. Patients and the NHS have and will continue to benefit through better health, avoidance of hospitalisation and more effective use of healthcare resources.

So where is the crisis? What is going on? Is there 'spin' to contend with?

My edition of the Oxford English Dictionary gives the word 'spin' 19 different meanings. Although one of these is about telling a tale, another has become an activity beloved of politicians attempting to spread their influence.

Do politicians spin as naturally as dogs bark? Not really; they prefer to tell it like it is and only spin if all else fails.

So if GPs see opponents reverting to spin, perhaps collectively they are doing something rather well.

Something to ponder?

Dr Lewis Miller, GP, Belfast, and chairman, Eastern LMC.

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