Health Minister Andy Burnham has dismissed calls to bring in a review body to rule on the new general medical services contract.

The British Medical Association GPs committee wants the doctors' and dentists' review body to recommend on pay increases in the GMS contract in future.

NHS Employers' GMS negotiating team chair Dr Barbara Hakin said: 'There is no debate that negotiations for this contract will continue through NHS Employers. There are no plans to change that. Mr Burnham has written to GPC chair Hamish Meldrum in the past few days to confirm that.

'The package that was on the table would have suited many GPs more than the DDRB model because it would have given them flexibility. Under the circumstance that an independent review body made a decision on what pay uplift GPs should get, that would need to be negotiated back into the contract in line with other important elements such as efficiencies.'

She added: 'More and more elements are being directed locally but there are some elements all primary care trusts need and some national negotiations should go on.'

The DDRB recommended on uplifts this year for the first time since the new contract was introduced. The GPC asked the review body to step in after negotiations with NHS Employers broke down last autumn following its proposed zero per cent rise.

Speaking after a meeting with local medical committee secretaries and the GPC to discuss the profession's response to this rise, GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'We have made it clear we want to use the DDRB process in terms of cost of living and pay rise and not be in this situation where we are blackmailed into making changes to the quality and outcomes framework to take up extra work in order to get a pay rise.

'It's clear there is no appetite for formal industrial action or anything that would damage patient care. I would advise this government not to take the fact that GPs are not calling for a strike as a sign of weakness. We will make it clear what we want in the future.'

The GPC also suggested that PCTs put in place local enhanced services to cover two directed enhanced services - access and choice and booking - which ran out at the start of the month.

Dr Meldrum said: 'There is no reason for practices to continue to fulfil the criteria of the DES. The decision to set up a LES is with PCTs and practices but there should be a clause which allows them to move to a national DES if one comes out and is better.'