GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall has opposed negotiating an independent Scottish contract ‘in the middle of a huge financial crisis’, but believes the UK-wide deal will fall within three to five years.
‘The calls for an independent contract are getting louder and louder,’ he said. ‘If it is voted through then it would become GPC policy and I would have to negotiate a separate contract with the Scottish government.’
Lothian LMC chairman Dr Richard Williams believes a motion he proposed calling for a split would be passed at the Scottish LMCs conference on Thursday 22 March in Glasgow.
The motion reads: ‘It is now appropriate to negotiate a separate contract for general practice in Scotland.’
Dr Williams said: ‘This has been debated for years and each year it has got more debate and the number of people who have voted against it has decreased. I think the time is right now for a Scottish contract because of the policy changes in England.’
Fears that Scotland’s civil service would be unable to cope with managing a GP contract had prevented the split in the past, he said, but now ‘we have the people and the skills to manage it’.
Dr Williams added: ‘The BMA tells us the reason we were able to opt out of 24-hour care is because there was negotiation UK-wide.
‘But it has been 10 years since the contract has been negotiated and there have been a lot of developments since. Instead of tweaking around the edges we should start afresh.’
Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon is due to address the conference for the second year running. She called recently for up to three quarters of the GP contract to be negotiated separately for Scotland (GP, 11 January).
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government refused to comment on what would happen if the motion was passed.
Dr Marshall said: ‘There is enough flexibility in the contract; I don’t see how an alternative structure could do better.’