Medicopolitical Digest

Local medical committee conferenceConfidence expressed in GMCFees for telephone advice should be restored

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 04 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:85

Local medical committee conference

PCG deal wins overwhelming support

Representatives of Britain's GPs have given their support to the government's reassurances on primary care groups (PCGs) and resolved that they form an acceptable basis for GPs' involvement.

Last week's local medical committee (LMC) conference congratulated the GP leaders on their negotiations, which resulted in reassurances on freedom, funding, and control. These were set out in a letter from the health minister, Mr Alan Milburn, and were welcomed by the General Medical Services Committee at an emergency meeting last month (27 June, p 1927).

Revolutionary changes

In his first address to the conference as GMSC chairman, Dr John Chisholm said that the changes were revolutionary. He believed that they would “have an impact on general practice more profound than any change we have seen since 1966 and possibly since the NHS began 50 years ago.” The independent contractor status had been protected and there had been commitments to the independent review body and to consult and negotiate with the GMSC on all aspects of NHS general practice; money had been guaranteed and inflation-proofed for premises, staff, and computing, and for out of hours development; and GPs will now have the right to decide whether they will be in the majority on PCG governing boards and whether they wish to hold the chair.

Proposing the motion of congratulation, Dr John Grenville (South Derbyshire) emphasised that the minister's letter should be seen as a package. “We think it is an excellent outcome to the negotiations and will allow the reforms to be introduced to produce the best possible results.” But Dr Jonathan Reggler (Buckinghamshire) told the conference that PCGs would lead to a health service which was wholly finance led. “GPs will provide a rump service to those who cannot afford to pay.” He thought that for many GPs the short term solution of …

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