Speaking at the institute general practitioners conference at Warwick University, Ward said: ‘There are 22 district societies now and there will remain 22 district societies for foreseeable future.’
The denial came as the institute executive discussed a report on the future of the district societies, which will be debated at the next institute council meeting on the 4th October.
Ward said the report reaffirmed the institute’s commitment to the district societies with more investment in staff and training.
However, some delegates at the conference accused the president of misleading them and creating the impression that the societies were not under threat.
Some delegates claimed the plan outlined in the report would involve a reduction in full-time staffing levels and office premises.
One delegate said: ‘If you get rid of the people and the buildings, you ain’t left with much else.’
Sole practitioner Richard Harwood, based in Sutton Coldfield, also said the report would not mean the end of the district societies. Harwood, who has served on the institute district societies steering committee, backed Ward and said the report would reaffirm the institute’s commitment to the district network.
However, other delegates believed the move was part of the increasing centralisation of the institute, and it was moving away from its grass roots level.
Ward said changes proposed in the report had resulted from surveys and consultations.