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ICB questioned by local GPs who feel they may be ‘forced’ into salaried service

ICB questioned by local GPs who feel they may be ‘forced’ into salaried service
By Jess Hacker
26 September 2023

Exclusive Two LMCs have submitted a vote of no confidence to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB following concerns GPs could be ‘forced into a salaried contract’.

In a letter dated 4 September, both North Staffordshire LMC and South Staffordshire LMC stated the ICB has made ‘no real engagement’ with primary care and called for the removal of the primary care leadership if changes are not made within three months.

The LMCs stated that on ‘multiple occasions’ the ‘future of the partnership model has been questioned’ coupled with ‘threats that [GP partners] will be forced into a salaried contract’.

Both LMCs also claimed that the ICB’s drive to move enhanced services and budgets out of independent practices and contracting them to larger organisations will lead to many practices failing or handing back contracts.

South Staffordshire LMC also cited the ICB’s decision to scrap its visiting service ‘without any consultation or engagement at the beginning of the winter months’ as evidence of the Board’s lack of understanding of how the practices work.

The ICB’s chair and chief medical officer have met with the LMC chief executives to discuss the letter.

The letter stated: ‘Both North and South LMC committees have passed no confidence votes on the management/leadership overseeing the primary care team. We had another emergency meeting with the elected representatives of our GP colleagues and have expressed their concerns about the primary care team’s views and the direction of travel.’

The current direction of ICB behaviour is seen as ‘a threat to the sustainability of the Independent Contractor GP Partnership model’ and would risk undermining continuity of care and quality of services, it said.

The two committees set out their need for ‘clear commitment of support’ of the independent contractor model and improved communication and engagement with GPs.

They also called for an independent review of their concerns by someone from outside the ICB – jointly agreed by both parties – to deliver an action plan within four weeks.

The letter said that if no outcomes have been acted on within three months the LMCs will proceed with ‘disengagement with the ICB and press for national removal of the ICB leadership in charge of [the] primary care team’.

Chief medical officer for the ICB, Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, said: ‘Since the ICB received the letter from the LMCs, the ICB chair and I have met with chief officers from both committees to discuss their concerns.

‘We have agreed we need to work together on a solution which allows for more meaningful engagement and better ways of working collaboratively. This will ensure people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent continue to get the care they need.’

The ICB is currently in the process of recruiting a new chief executive.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the GP partnership model is ‘coming to an end of its life’ and that the NHS needs ‘more salaried GPs’.

In June, GP leaders at the BMA wrote to the Labour Party in a bid to change its position.

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