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A faulty production line

GP reluctance around resignations was factor in GPC decision, says Nagpaul

The GPC chair has told Pulse that legal advice and feedback from GPs contributed towards it dropping plans to ballot the profession on industrial action.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the BMA took legal advice on its options for taking industrial action, or submitting undated resignations, following a vote at the LMCs Conference in May.

However, he said that the legal advice had thrown up a number of complexities in submitting undated resignations, while other forms of action – such as non-engagement with the CQC – were illegal.

Dr Nagpaul added that the GPC had ‘considerable’ dialogue with NHS England around implementing the GP Forward View and the GPC’s recommendations in its Urgent Prescription for General Practice.

A motion at the LMCs Conference in May said that the GPC should ballot the profession unless NHS England accepted the Urgent Prescription recommendations within three months to address the increasing workload of GPs.

But the GPC announced yesterday that it will not be going ahead with a ballot, after NHS England agreed to negotiate on the recommendations in the Urgent Prescription, including longer appointment times, stopping all unfunded work and ending inappropriate workload demands on GPs that could be done by other parts of the NHS.

Speaking to Pulse today, Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The letter in a way it summarised NHS England’s position, but we have had considerable dialogue with NHS both in terms of implementing the GP Forward View and the Urgent Prescription for General Practice, which is our priority.’

This was the main reason the GPC took the decision, but there other reasons for not balloting on industrial action, Dr Nagpaul said.

He added: ‘There’s some very practical and financial reasons for why many GPs would not sign up to undated resignation. We’ve had considerable feedback from LMC meetings etc.

‘There are complexities around salaried GPs, complexities around the large numbers of locum doctors, complexities around partnership agreements and what would be allowed in terms of resignations.

‘We’ve actually looked into all of that – we’ve had legal advice – and therefore if that question ever is asked in the future it would have to be understood properly. It’s not quite as simple a question as what one had originally imagined.’

But Dr Jackie Applebee, chair of Tower Hamlets LMC, who proposed the motion in May, said: ‘I am concerned about the decision not to ballot. There was an overwhelming vote in favour of this at LMC conference. General practice is in extremis and this is widely acknowledged throughout the profession and the grassroots have by this vote showed the strength of feeling.

‘I understand that if NHS England has said that they accept all of the demands of the Urgent Prescription for General Practice that some might perceive this to be a breakthrough, however it will take more than words.’

Readers' comments (31)

  • Ditch the BMA comrades. It appears only the junior doctors have any spine left. GPs will reap what they sow. If you don't stand up for yourself, guess what. No one else will either.

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  • Why make empty threats in the first place? This makes us look even more spineless. Well done GPC .

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  • Mr Mephisto

    The GPC and the government have been involved in a game of "Chicken" and the GPC has blinked first.

    "Game over" for the GPC - they may as well cave in to all of the government demands as everyone knows that Chickens have no teeth.

    The GPC "Chicken" is just about to get "plucked"

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  • Another stitch up by the cardigans!!

    Why is anyone actually suprised?


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  • already given up hope NI GP

    Always best to get advice prior to suggesting a course of action otherwise one can start to look inept.

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  • Seems to me that the BMA has two elements - radical left wing Junior doctors leaders intent on joining up with other Trades Union with the intent of 'bringing the government down', and a lilly livered GP leadership who won't support us. The losers in all this are the members. Ditch the BMA.

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  • There are some (many) practices that are successful. There are many more that are struggling. We do not want to harm the successful practices through industrial action.

    We do not want industrial action to result in breech notices (or handing back contracts) to successful practices then the contract being re-tendered to a private companies.

    For that reason I would not vote for industrial action. I think there are enough people in successful practices that would feel the same; meaning you are not going to get the same overwhelming mandate as the junior doctors had.

    The only way the situation is going to realistically change is through the workforce shortages. Those in struggling practices should ditch their contracts (ideally do it together in a local group) then work as locums or take partnerships gaps in more successful practices.

    That forces the governments hand to take action. It protects the work-life balance of partners in practices that are under-resourced and protects the successful practices.

    it totally screws over the patients in under-resourced areas, but we need to make sure that our personal feelings of responsibility are not used as a tool to work us in to an early grave. Politicians have to make sure they get an appropriate service in those areas(not doctors).

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  • Quite agree with anonymous above. It's one of a number of options, but to achieve it we need leaders and there aren't any in the GPC.

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  • Resignation would mean very rapid bankruptcy for many partners. Income would stop and the contractual requirement to pay for premises, staff and salaried doctors would go on. I am no admirer of the BMA but they are right on this one.

    I know that many think that an immediate switch to private practice would fill the income gap - but outside of a few wealthy areas this would be a non-starter.

    The government will only move when market forces operate - significant numbers of the public being left without a GP. This will happen - just be patient. Let the politicians take the flack and don't make their task easy by withdrawing from contracts.

    The comparison with the juniors is completely spurious. At the most they loose their pay (after tax) for the days that they don't work. The will not loose their houses.

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  • Pure humiliation

    contemptible capitulation

    why make threats than not carry them out??

    balloting would have given a stronger hand and send a message to the govt who are now well aware that they can keep dumping more and work onto primary care without the threat of reprisals.

    the profession is a lame duck.

    GPs are a joke because of poor leadership

    Cardigans have destroyed the profession over a decade and are sitting pretty while the rest of the minnions below sweat blood and keep the gold plated pensions pumping!!

    Any millenial GP reading this can surely see what their future amounts to should they choose to remain as a cog in this broken wheel of a profession.

    Remember the tories will win a landslide against dysfunctional labour so you cant rely on another election in 4 years to improve things.......the question you really should be asking is can you hack another potential decade of this and waste your best years in a failing and decimated system??

    some practices today are reliant on patient handouts and charity to keep them open!!!!!

    where is all this headed?? the cardigans are looking out for themselves and i suggest you do the same...for your own livelihood and future.

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