Exclusive - Two thirds of GPs reject contract deal

Fears for continuity of care and future of GMS fuel possible 'no' vote.

Two thirds of GPs will reject the DoH's contract offer that will add three hours to the average practice's working week for a potential 1.5 per cent income increase, according to a GP survey.

Of the 350 GPs who took part, 65.1 per cent voted to reject the offer, 28.6 per cent to accept under protest and 6.3 per cent to accept.

However, in a separate poll using the same questions at two Kent LMC meetings last week the 'yes' vote was 62.5 per cent from an additional 184 GPs.

GPs from Kent and Northampton LMCs said they would accept the offer, but more than 80 per cent of 300 GPs at a Leeds LMC meeting abstained (GP, 1 February).

At Birmingham LMC this week, 300 GPs unanimously rejected the contract offered.

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, attributed the anger to letters sent to GPs by the DoH that made it clear that practices would have to open longer and offer more appointments.

'The LMCs that voted "yes" probably looked at the short-term financial implications,' he said. 'People are now beginning to realise the wider implications, the government's agenda. I would think meetings from now on will result in more "no" votes.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chairman, said: 'We are hearing variable results from different LMCs but if you ask questions in different contexts you get different answers.'

In the GP survey, GPs rejecting the deal are split over what to do next. A quarter want another ballot, while the same amount want some form of unspecified industrial action, 11.5 per cent called for the use of undated resignations and 8.3 per cent for the withdrawal of some services.

The GPC was meeting this week to formulate its plans. A letter asking GPs what they want to do will be sent out shortly with questions likely to include what should be done if GPs reject the DoH offer.

The UK contract is feared to be in danger of fragmenting because of different government approaches to extended hours.

One respondent in the GP poll said: 'I feel so demoralised and I feel no one is recognising all our hard work. There is a lot of apathy and GPs do not appear to be prepared to fight for their rights.'

Another said: 'The government's position is to aim towards a privatisation of GP services and one day, once this has occurred, it will realise how much money GPs have saved the country and what a good service GPs have provided.'

Industrial action
24.1% of 'no' voters want some form of industrial action11.5% of 'no' voters want to serve undated resignations.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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