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Many of you may be thinking, what is an LMC? Or maybe you’ve heard of them but aren’t really clear what they are. Let me try and dispel some of the mystery for you and perhaps pique your interest enough to even consider joining one.
LMCs are local medical committees, each covering different areas of the UK. They represent and voice the views and opinions of local GPs. They have been around for a very long time, since 1911. The committees themselves are made up of local NHS GPs and each LMC is different in size. The GPs on the committee are elected by their local colleagues. In some areas the seats can be hotly contested, in others it can be easier to be elected to a seat if you want one.
Subsequent NHS acts have recognised LMCs as the professional organisations that represent both individual GPs and practices views at a local level to NHS organisations. This means that, locally, LMCs must be consulted on proposed changes to services and contracts affecting primary care, to ensure the voice of local GPs can be heard.
At a larger scale LMCs provide a link between local GPs and their national negotiating body, the GPC (general practitioners committee). This is a BMA committee and negotiates directly at the highest levels with the Government and NHS England on matters affecting GPs, such as terms and conditions and pay.
Should I join an LMC as a sessional doctor?
As mentioned above, LMCs represent all GPs, not just contract holders, including you as a sessional GP (ie locum or salaried GP). Any issues that you or your peers are facing locally, such as issues with contracts, access to jobs and education can be raised through the LMC and can be taken forward on your behalf. Also, if you are experiencing difficulties that affect sessional doctors at a national level these can be fed up through the LMC to the sessional committee of GPC UK to take forward. Examples of such work include work on annualisation, out-of-hours indemnity cover and model locum terms and conditions.
In terms of commitment, if you join the local medical committee you will have to attend a handful of meetings throughout the year. It’s not a major time commitment but, as with everything, the more energy you put into it the more you get out of it. Some LMCs are excellent at prioritising sessional GPs’ issues and many even have their own sessional sub-committee or specific seats for sessional doctors, some of which are unfilled. I chair the sessional subcommittee of my local LMC (Kent) and have found joining transformative in terms of my awareness of the ‘bigger picture’ with regards to local and national changes affecting GPs. Mostly, I enjoy attending the meetings, listening to other people’s views, sharing ideas and feeling that I am helping to drive forward changes that will improve GPs’ working lives.
Being part of your LMC can be a really fun, interesting way to get to know about and become involved in tackling local issues affecting GPs. If you have a passion for sticking up for yourself and your peers, then joining your local medical committee is the perfect way of doing that.
If that has piqued your interest enough then please contact your local LMC to find out about joining. We have guidance available on how sessional GPs and LMCs can work together more effectively. More information and how to find your local LMC is available here .
Sarah Westerbeek is part of the executive team on the sessional GPs committee. She is a salaried GP based in Kent.
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