But calls to declare the current GP contract ‘unfit for purpose’ and run a ballot on a new contract were defeated.
Dr Dean Eggitt from Doncaster LMC said GPs needed freedom from target culture and bureaucracy that takes doctors away from patients. The GP contract imposed by the government risked those freedoms, silenced the voice of the GPC, and removed the ability of GPs 'to protect patients from the damaging actions of politicians', he said.
He added that it was ‘deplorable’ that the contract was imposed without listening to experts' concerns. ‘The government has shown disregard for the safety catch which are negotiations, and programmed a ticking time-bomb under the foundations of the NHS,’ he said.
Dr Jamie Macpheerson from Coventry LMC urged delegates to support a clause that said, in the light of the Francis report, the imposition showed bullying in the NHS emanated from the top.
He called on GPs to become ‘collective whistleblowers’ against government bullying, of which the imposition was just one example.
Delegates rejected a clause calling on GPC to investigate legal action against the DH in the European courts, after GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman warned against the time and cost involved.
Some LMC delegates argued it was not the right time to be pushing for a new GP contract, saying the government would use the opportunity to further weaken GPs’ position.
Dr Andrew Taylor from Liverpool LMC called on ‘fellow turkeys’ not to ‘vote for Christmas’. Dr Julie-Anne Birch from Cleveland LMC said the government would be ‘only too happy to impose an AMPS-type contract’ and that opening new contract negotiations now would take GPs ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’.
Delegates were told they were in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ if they thought the GPC could negotiate a better deal. ‘Voters are not going to pay for it, patients are not going to pay for it’, she said.
Dr Mark Durling from Sheffield, proposing the motion, said he recognised the ‘fear’ that GPs could not win against government, but said delegates should vote to open a debate on a new contract.
However, GPs followed Dr Buckman’s recommendation and rejected clauses calling the current contract 'unfit for purpose’, and for a ballot on a new contract.