Scottish LMCs reject breakaway GP contract

LMC leaders in Scotland have called for devolved nations to remain free to vary the UK GP contract, but rejected calls for a breakaway Scottish deal.

Dr John Ip: contract must recognise gap between England and Scotland (photo: Ken Ferguson)
Dr John Ip: contract must recognise gap between England and Scotland (photo: Ken Ferguson)

GPs at the Scottish LMCs conference in Glasgow backed a motion calling for the GMS contract to be negotiated at UK level, but ‘allow variation in the devolved nations’.

However, LMC leaders rejected a motion that recognised ‘growing divergence in health service direction and policy between the London and Edinburgh administrations and welcomes moves towards a Scottish GP contract’.

Dr Malcolm Kerr of Ayrshire and Arran LMC told the conference that a contract that recognised the growing health policy divide between Scotland and England was ‘going to happen anyway’.

'No forecast of the Scottish micro-political landscape foresees anything other than continuing divergence in policy between Edinburgh and London. We need a contract that reflects that reality,’ he argued.

Glasgow LMC member Dr John Ip said he didn't want to ‘bin the UK contract and start afresh’, but believed LMCs should seek to build on the separate contract deal agreed in Scotland for 2013/14.

But Fife LMC’s Dr Gerald Burnett said: 'If we split from the UK contract, we will initially get goodies but very rapidly we will find ourselves subjected to a less good contract.

‘We will be in a less strong position and I would urge that we stick with a national contract, albeit with a tartan tinge.'

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Alan McDevitt added: ‘I think we have to very careful about discussion of an actual Scottish contract. There have been a lot of benefits to us of the current contract.

'Like any contract it is not perfect, like I have said to people many times - is the time of a major dip in finances for the NHS a time to throw away your contract and say "Actually can I have a much nicer and better one please?".’

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