Memorandum submitted by the British Medical
The BMA is a voluntary professional association
of doctors, and their trade union, which promotes the science
of medicine and maintains the honour and interests of the medical
profession. With over 123,000 members, it represents around 80
per cent of the medical profession in the UK. The BMA is also
a scientific and educational body and a publishing house.
The GPC is a BMA committee with authority to
deal with all matters affecting NHS GPs. It represents all doctors
in general practice, whether they are independent contractors
or salaried, principals or non-principals, working under Part
II or Part I of the NHS Acts and whether or not they are a member
of the BMA.
The committee is recognised as the sole negotiating
body for general practice by the Department of Health.
The GPC and the Royal College of General Practitioners
in December 1999 issued the following joint policy statement on
the care of patients who are substance abusers:
"The RCGP and GPC believe that general practitioners
should offer appropriate care to all patients on their lists.
Where patients have problems with substance abuse, appropriate
care will include aspects of primary care normally provided by
the practice primary health care team, shared care with other
care services and referral to other appropriate services. Certain
GPs may develop particular expertise in the care of substance
abusers, and the number and location of these doctors should,
ideally, be sufficient to prevent substantial workload falling
onto only a few GPs. In supporting the development of this expertise,
the health departments must ensure the provision of appropriate
training in this field; facilitate professional support; resource
the adequate provision of support services, including specialist
services and offer appropriate additional remuneration for this