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I’m willing to fight for GPs by leading split from BMA

Last Thursday I attended a meeting of local GPs regarding the extended hours blackmail threat and when the question ‘Who is prepared to take significant industrial action?' was asked, well over half the hands in the room went up.

They didn't go up quickly, however. Most of those who eventually said yes waited to see if anyone else was voting for action.

My concern is that when the profession is balloted in the next few weeks, it will be ticking a box in isolation without the reassurance that others are voting with bravery for the action they would secretly prefer.

I am concerned that this will intimidate most of those who vote into accepting option A, rather than drawing a line in the sand and standing united against the Government.

One GP at the meeting said he had a mortgage and could not afford to take industrial action. While people such as this will be quite happy to enjoy the potential success of those of us who are prepared to put our heads above the parapet, they are unwilling to stand up and be counted.

As the firemen said in a well-known cartoon: ‘If you won't serve us when we're on strike, don't be catching fire when we aren't!'

The general feel of the room was of deep dissatisfaction. All GPs need is organising and to be informed that they are not alone. If GPs do decide to make a stand, it will be the story of the decade – the first time doctors have taken such action since the 1970s.

But we need an alternative trade union. What the hell was the BMA doing letting us sign a contract saying the Government could alter it any way it liked without discussion with the contract holders themselves?

If we accept option A, the Government will be back next year for more. We will have given it a clear message that it can shaft us any way it likes.

If we keep giving in every year, by the time Mr Mortgage gets round to resigning, private enterprise will have infiltrated general practice so extensively that the Government will be glad to see the back of us.

Therefore, now is the time to act. We need publicity and we need to stand united.

I am no different to any other GP in terms of responsibility, but you are invited to contact me though Pulse.

For the sake of my family and my partners in general practice, refer to me as Spleen, a GP in the North West. What I want is for about 500 GPs to contact me asking how they can help. Eventually, an alternative union might grow out of it.

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