GPC chairman points to successes

When GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman gave his first address to the LMCs conference in 2008 the enemy - extended access and the DoH's anti-GP attacks - was clearly visible.

He was about to deliver a 1.3 million-signature petition to Downing Street as part of the Save Your Surgery campaign.

This year the enemy is hazier. GPs had a 'slightly better' year and DoH propaganda had 'lessened', Dr Buckman said, although the DoH 'pressed on with one Darzi centre per PCT'.

Dr Buckman pointed to successes: a 0.7 per cent income rise after three years of standstill; the beginning of the end of QOF prevalence adjustments; the release of a 'large number of practices' from MPIG; and the shelving of local QOFs and planned changes to dispensing.

He made promises: no practice will be allowed to lose its MPIG 'unless it is on a rising tide of guaranteed resource'; no global sum changes until they have been 'modelled to destruction'; and to hold the DoH to carrying over the 2008/9 directed enhanced service funding.

Dr Buckman stressed that GPs know better than the government what their patients want and fiercely attacked the £8 million national patient survey.

But his tone was largely conciliatory. 'There are plenty of PCO staff who understand that working with LMCs and GPs is much easier than opening a new battle front,' he said.

Rather than more 'endless chipping away at the contract we fought so hard to achieve', he asked, why doesn't the government 'just work with us'?

Delegates rewarded him with the customary standing ovation, just one third shorter than 2008.

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