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GPs to debate resignation from the NHS en masse

GPs will debate whether the profession should resign from the NHS en masse at the Pulse Live conference tomorrow.

The debate, taking place in Liverpool, will see delegates voting on the question ‘Is it time for all GPs to resign from their NHS contracts?’, and will involve chair of the Family Doctor Association Dr Peter Swinyard and Dr Zoe Norris, media lead for GP Survival.

The panel will be debating whether it is time for GPs to take the major step in response to health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ‘new deal’, in which he pushed for GPs to offer seven-day access.

It also comes as junior doctors are going to be balloted by the BMA on whether to take industrial action in response to the Government imposing a contract that will see Saturday working reclassified as ‘sociable’ hours.

In a preview to the debate, Dr John Cosgrove, a GP in Birmingham, argued that the message about GPs’ workload is not getting through to ministers, as evidenced by the ‘new deal’.

He added: ‘Experience tells us the only effective negotiating tool to bring about real change is a credible threat of mass GP resignation. Holding undated letters of resignation enabled the BMA to negotiate the 2004 GP contract, and the time has now come for a similar move.

‘This has the potential to persuade the Government to resource general practice adequately and to support us in defining our remit and that of the NHS.’

Dr Roger Henderson, a GP in Shropshire who will also be on the panel, says that at first glance, resigning en masse ‘may seem like a no brainer’.

However, he adds that to make primary care work, ‘we have to be inside the NHS tent talking to ministers’.

He says: ‘If we fire our one and only negotiating bullet – the one marked ”Stuff this” – from our elephant gun then, yes, there will be a lot of noise, we will briefly feel better and it will shake up the media and politicians.

‘But once the shock and awe has settled, the NHS will still be there, patients with no one to trust but their GP will still need to be seen, long-term care in the community will not have suddenly disappeared and, perhaps most importantly, we will have a divided profession since the one thing we can all probably agree on is that we’ll never get 100% of GPs signing resignation letters.’

Readers' comments (45)

  • I cannot see why that policy of 3.06pm cannot be implimented immediately by all? After all it is working within the official guidelines. Good will has gone so stop the extra hours as until this is done, nothing will change. It is also hard to argue against doctors and critisise them on this point. And even if they did what would we be doing wrong by doing this? What other job involves enforced charity work as part of the contract?

    Mass resignation was the wrong thing to discuss initially as it was too extreme and risky for many. If real results had been wanted by the organisers them a less extreme but much more effective and realistic way forwards should have been debated.

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  • Resigning is a risky option for many with a stake in a practice. A better option is to threaten other options end masses:eg
    Increase referrals
    Increase prescribing
    Go to 15 minute appointments and sod the access
    Decline home visits and signpost to a+e
    Stop doing fit notes and other "statutory" paperwork
    This will create such a difficulty, the government may come to it's senses. True it will be a breach of our one sided Gms contracts but would NHSe really send breach notices to every UK practice? Even if they did what would be their plan b? Close the practices? They have no current capacity to absorb UK General practice even with their cgc troubleshooting preferred contractor friends.

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  • There has never been a better time to resign as a GP,to paraphrase someone we all know. Chunt has already got the junior doctors giving him headaches,so we should increase the pressure on him.Or are all my fellow gps useless and pathetic?Get some balls,the lot of you!!!

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  • Surely as well as posting our thoughts (and venting) on here we should be putting pressure on the BMA/GPC directly.
    Obviously leaving them is one option (and if enough did they would listen)
    OR write like you would to MP -

    Better to vent with them - anyone else know a better contact? Chaand directly?

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  • No matter what the decision is it will be 'Too much, Too late! '

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