Headlines: July 17th, 2002

Family doctors have given a clear vote to accept the framework of a new GP contract.In the ballot on the new contract, 75.8 per cent of GPs voted yes, 24.2 per cent voted no. Turn-out was 65.2 per cent.

The ‘yes’ vote gives the BMA the mandate to take forward further detailed negotiations and pricing. When this is done, a second ballot of the profession will be held to see if the final package is acceptable to family doctors.

The BMA feels it has a strong hand in the next stage of the negotiations. The NHS Plan relies upon an increase in the numbers of family doctors. A stock-take of those currently serving shows that more are due to retire than expected to enter the service in the next few years.

It warns that the Government will have to pay doctors well if they are to agree to modernise their contracts.

The NHS Confederation, which represents the organisations that make up the NHS, has played a key role in the negotiations and has welcomed the ‘yes’ vote. It says the new contract is a vital tool in modernising primary care and a lynch-pin in recruiting and retaining GPs for the NHS.