Inflation income rise is the bottom line for GPC

LMCs Conference 2006 

Rallying call on pay, threat of alternative providers and an e-booking boost

A year when the profession has seen income judder to a halt and when the principle 'no new work without new money' has been eroded might be a daunting challenge for the GPC chairman at the annual conference of LMCs.

Not, however, for the current incumbent.

In another of the neatly crafted speeches that are becoming his signature, Dr Hamish Meldrum last week heaped praise on the profession and turned his fire on the government.

He told GPs they had good reason to be disgruntled. In nine years of ceaseless reorganisation, the DoH had recreated the health service structures it had inherited, he said.

It had attributed health gains to primary care organisations and left GPs feeling sidelined.

Dr Meldrum noted the assertions in Sir Ian Carruthers' newly published report to the NHS that 'PCTs are, on average, achieving 95 per cent of available quality framework points' and that 'PCTs care for their local patients with CVD'.

In an opening address to the LMCs conference in London that was frequently punctuated by spontaneous applause, the GPC chairman conceded that this was a year of 'consolidation'.

But it was a 'one-off'. It won't happen again, he said.

'The bottom line for this coming year must be an inflationary increase on the present contract,' Dr Meldrum insisted. The negotiators will accept no back-tracking on the MPIG or on pensions.

Delegates even took the chairman's challenges on the chin - to embrace the opportunities created by the 2003 contract.

'The new contract has given us the power to say no,' Dr Meldrum said.

'If we can say no, then we can't stop others saying yes and the more we say no, the more politicians and managers will turn to others who will say yes.'

Deftly omitting to mention the contract to run two South London practices awarded to the private company run by his predecessor Dr John Chisholm and former GPC joint deputy chairman Dr Simon Fradd, he said that with fairness and equity in bidding, contracts and monitoring, 'we will survive and flourish'.

The delegates must have agreed. They loved him. The standing ovation for this slick, professional chairman with just enough sincerity to engage, lasted 44 seconds - 10 per cent up on his maiden speech as chairman last year.

prisca.middlemiss@haynet.com

- Opinion, page 19.

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