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Half of GPs willing to resign NHS contracts in protest at state of general practice

Exclusive Almost half of GPs support mass resignation from the NHS in protest at the current state of general practice, a Pulse survey has revealed.

The survey of 922 GPs found that 49% are willing to resign their NHS contracts to highlight issues such as chronic underfunding, relentless bureaucracy and the ‘misrepresentation’ of doctors.

However, 35% of respondents said they were against the measure, saying that mass resignation could enable the Government to divide the profession and privatise the NHS.

It comes as senior GP leaders prepare for a crisis summit in 30 January, which will look specifically at ‘what actions are needed to ensure GPs can deliver a safe and sustainable service’ and after junior doctors forced health secretary Jeremy Hunt back to the negotiating with their vote to strike earlier this month.

GPs said they were angry at the lack of Government action as practices faced an unprecedented shortage of GPs, their income falling to the lowest level for nine years and many being forced to close down.

They said that the ‘new deal’ announced by the health secretary earlier this year had failed to deal with the problems many practices were having.

Dr David Goldberg, a GP in Merseyside, said: ‘Over the last few years all actions by the Government point to the fact that they are engineering a fight with doctors. The Government misrepresents us repeatedly. They misrepresent doctors’ work ethic but nothing could be further from the truth. The only option we have left is to post-date resignation letters en masse.’

Dr Karen Buchanan, a GP in North Tyneside, said: ‘I’m massively frustrated by the situation in general practice. To the point, after 20 years, where I’m not sure I can continue working in the NHS. I see the whole structure of general practice being dismantled, a structure that had been admired world-wide. The opinions of the workforce are repeatedly ignored by the Government. Money is being poured in to wasteful, inefficient ”money saving” schemes. We may have less targets to reach but we are always the target for the media.’

But Dr Andrew Sant, a GP and medical director at Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, told Pulse that resigning was not a solution and the profession should instead push for an alternative model of care: ‘This would probably be in a large provider working as an accountable or integrated care organisation rather than a practice.’

Results in full

Would you support mass resignation from the NHS due to the current state of general practice?

Yes: 449 (48.7%)

No: 319 (34.6%)

Don’t know: 154 (16.7%)

Total number of respondents: 922

The survey was launched on 26th October 2015, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 20 questions asked covered a wide range of GP topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for a Samsung HD TV as an incentive to complete the survey. A total of 922 GPs answered this question.

Readers' comments (46)

  • Dont' forget that those who are threatening to resign are the most [?abnormally] resilient of us.
    Normal people have succumbed to breakdown of their health and given up for that reason.
    If you add those who have left for health reasons to those who volunteer to go you might get an even more terrifying statistic.

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  • "Una Coales | Other GP10 Dec 2015 10:58am
    When oh when will the doctor's trade union, the BMA, ballot its GP members on mass resignation from a financially unfeasible and unfair contract?"

    What do you think Chaand was given a CBE reward for?

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  • GPs have to make a firm stand, which is supported by the public, otherwise they will end up like primary teachers, who don't get overtime, but work 60 hour weeks, most of it fulfilling the government's bureaucratic requirements. This constant meddling by ministers, and their 20 something advisers, has become the norm in British government.

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  • I was a senior a GP principal in an inner city practice for 27 years and the work got to such an unsustainable level together with financial losses DIRECTLY as as a result of a cut back in fees and inability to recruit partners that I decide to retire and adjust to a life in the slow lane. I guess, initially o felt confused as to whether I had done the right thing because I loved my job especially the teaching side of it. I went through a period of prolonged uncertainty but I was one of the lucky ones who could retire at 55 as I had I major financial obligations. A year has passed since I stopped full time general practice and my life could not be any better. I wogldNEVER go back to this nightmarish life and feel blessed that I got a way out. I sincerely hope that pother colleague n my situation will have the courage to do he same

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  • I didn't wait until the masses resigned, I went at 54. Best decision I ever made.
    The 50% presumably is of those left. So many have already gone that it represents a much larger proportion than appears.

    Incidentally, I applied for voluntary erasure which I got with no questions asked in 2 weeks. I had to get one form from my last employer and that was it.

    Today I got a cheque from them for nearly £400 refund for the rest of the year.

    Champagne tonight!

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  • The 51% included the disgruntled who have joined Federations formed by CCG/LMC members (and in some cases even the chairpersons of these organisations) with persuasion, coercion and the promise of a thick fat red juicy carrot with no stick in sight. They probably also include the privileged who have higher than normal funding and those who feel lost and have no opinion of their own. Or finally, of those stuck with premises and feel they have no way out and giving up the Contract might spell financial doom.
    Whatever the reasons, it's difficult to imagine that 51% of colleagues still feel that it is not yet time to walk out and would like to carry on in the present worsening climate.

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  • The overwhelming difference between now and the mid-sixties (when GPs achieved a good deal by submitting undated resignations) is that a significant number of doctors no longer own their surgery building.

    Many partners are 'middle men' in lease arrangements between NHS England and a private property company.

    Depending on how the lease is set up, resignation could mean rapid bankruptcy for these doctors. They have us by the 'short and curlies'.

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  • Dr Andrew Sant stated ‘This would probably be in a large provider working as an accountable or integrated care organisation rather than a practice.’

    Isn't this essentially what would happen with privitisation?

    As I've said before, GP unity = oxymoron.

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  • Come 2016, there may not be much left of the current NHS system to function "sustainably"...but then that was the plan set 5 years ago!

    As I always say to the young ones, 'If I had told you so, would you have listened or even done anything about it?'

    What have you as GP's, done so far and what are you going to do when the game is up ....Lambs to the slaughter! 'There is nothing you can do about it and there never was!'

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  • I am away in OZ. Gosh, what a nightmare the NHS is, especially GP land. While BMA and GPC sleep, doctors are leaving.
    In any case, any person who wants to be a doctor in the UK should take note of the GMC stance on doctors.
    if doctors strike legally so as not to work 90 hours / week, the GMC will hold them responsible.
    If you do not get paid and refuse to work, the GMC will hold you responsible.
    Go do computers, engineering, accountancy or anything else.
    if you become a doctor and make one mistake you are finished. Sometimes you are finished if you go on strike so that you do not make mistakes.
    The GMC is waiting to get you, so be really, really clever and just do not become a doctor.

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