New candidates will compete for senior GPC roles

GPs hoping to be part of the GPC's negotiating team for the first time want the committee to 'reconnect with grass-root GPs' and 'reverse the perception that it is in retreat'.

First-time candidates: Dr Brian Balmer and Dr Mark Sanford-Wood are standing to become GPC negotiators
First-time candidates: Dr Brian Balmer and Dr Mark Sanford-Wood are standing to become GPC negotiators

Three negotiating positions are set to be contested at elections on 18 July, when a new GPC chair will also be chosen.

A fourth negotiating position could also be voted on if current negotiator Dr Dean Marshall is successful in his bid to become chair, as he would have to give up his negotiating post that runs for another two years.

Seven candidates are contesting the negotiating seats, including Devon LMC’s Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, who has been on the GPC for only two years.

He told GP: ‘I am relatively new to the committee but I have 20 years of LMC experience.

‘We do need to get our message across to the public but the GPC really needs to get its message across to general practice's grass roots.

'It has done a good job in difficult circumstances but it hasn’t always communicated itself as well as it could have done. It has manifested itself in a degree of frustration [from grass-root GPs]. The profession is feeling pretty bruised and battered and perplexed by the degree of venom unleashed on it.

‘If we are going to try and reconnect with the grass roots, LMCs are a good start.’

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs for 15 years and on the GPC since 2002, is also standing for a post for the first time.

Dr Balmer said the GPC should provide much more support for LMCs in their negotiations with NHS England’s area teams.

‘We are all working with the same organisation [NHS England] and the GPC needs to be much slicker at putting practical support in place for LMCs where they want it,' he said.

‘This is a three-year post. In the next three years we are going to see some fundamental changes. We may be looking at discussions around a different type of GP contract.

‘The one big thing we need to do is to reverse the perception that we are in retreat. We need to give the other side something else to think about.’

GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey will also be contesting a negotiating post after Dr Charlotte Jones was appointed to take over his current role on 26 July.

Former UK negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash is also standing, alongside current negotiators Dr Peter Holden, Dr Chaand Nagpaul and Dr Richard Vautrey.

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