GPs have called for a bigger say in the government's reform of the Scottish health service.

Delegates to the first Scottish conference of local medical committees in Stirling passed resolutions calling for statutory representation on primary care trust boards, effective representation on their management teams and a say in selecting senior staff.

They also called for 'maximum devolution' of responsibility from primary care trusts to local healthcare co-operatives.

GPs at the conference voted unanimously that there should be extra money available for 'additional work incurred as a result of local healthcare co-operative activities', including serving on primary care trust and local healthcare co-operative boards and management teams.

'GPs must have influence and responsibility at all levels,' said William MacAlpine of Ayrshire and Arran LMC.

'There must not be a rollover of community trust executives to primary care trusts. Instead, they must attract the best professionals for the job with maximum devolution down.

'This must be a grassroots-led system with primary care trusts a federation of co-operatives.'

Christopher Tiarks, chair of the conference organising committee, said: 'There has been no business plan or costing for local healthcare co-operatives. Yet they represent the most radical change to the NHS in Scotland in 50 years.

'This is our opportunity to put a shot across the bows of government and to ask where the resources are coming from for these new groups.'

The conference also voted overwhelmingly in support of GPs retaining their independent contractor status.

Kathleen Long from Lanarkshire said: 'If we give up our self-employed status then we will cease to be independent advocates for the NHS. We need to be free from an employer's influence in order to speak out on the issues that affect our patients. The minute we become salaried, that threatens the whole service.'

There was also a vote to end the pay anomaly that means Scottish GPs receive about 5,000 a year less than their English and Welsh counterparts.

The British Medical Association's Scottish general practitioners committee has launched a campaign to have this anomaly redressed.

See Open Space, page 18.