...as GPC retreats on pay insult

GPs have reacted angrily to the GPC's limited response to the GMS pay freeze announced this month.

The committee was split over whether to recommend decisive action in the form of a boycott of Choose and Book, and a vote was narrowly lost.

Negotiators said there was ‘no appetite for industrial action’, despite widespread condemnation from GPC members of the real-terms pay cut.

They are now drawing up guidance for GPs, setting out possible actions for practices to consider.

The guidance will suggest that practices do not take up new work that is unfunded or ‘does not advance patient care’, and advise them to ditch existing services that meet these criteria.

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said this would ‘put down a clear marker that we will only cooperate with DoH policies if they benefit patients and are properly resourced’.

Negotiators believe it is important for practices to award staff pay rises despite the DoH’s refusal to increase GMS pay. Staff and patients should not be adversely affected by any response to the pay award, they said.

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said the response was ‘mature’. He said the GPC did not want to order GPs to take actions that would undermine work that benefited GPs and patients in some areas.

In an article written exclusively for GP by the GPC chairman, to be published next week, he says the ‘GPC will provide the bullets, and practices will have to decide how they want to use them’.

‘We are not saying don’t do Choose and Book or practice-based commissioning or anything else. We are helping practices to sit down and decide if they are prepared to continue doing all the work they currently do.’

Quitting Choose and Book will figure on the GPC’s list of possible actions. Dr Meldrum spoke out strongly against it last week: ‘Choose and Book is not fit for purpose, creates more workload and can be manipulated to limit patient choice.’

Non-cooperation with the care records system could also feature — Dr Meldrum said it potentially was extra, unresourced work for little patient benefit.

However, the plans provoked anger among GPs who wanted stronger action.

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