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GPs ‘should become more militant’ – but not resign contracts

GP negotiators should be able to take a more militant stance in negotiations with the Government, before balloting on mass GP resignations from their NHS contracts, a Pulse Live GP panel has said.

The GP leaders, speaking at the keynote discussion at Pulse Live Liverpool today, said that the GPC is working with ‘both hands tied behind their backs’ due to BMA structures and advocated an independent GP negotiating body that would have more freedom to act in the professions’ interests.

A straw poll of delegates at the conference found that only around 20% thought GPs should resign from the NHS en masse, with 40% saying opposing it after hearing of the potential harm to patients and the political consequences of dividing the profession.

Speaking against the proposal, Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said that the GPC is doing a good job, but they are limited by the wider BMA. 

He said: ‘The main reason I say no to resignation en masse is that our negotiators are working with both hands tied behind their backs. I have the highest regard for [GPC chair] Dr Chaand Nagpaul and his team, they’re brilliant. But they’re working within the BMA.

‘We need to stay with what we have, imperfect though it is. [But] we need a strong, GP-only, trade union which is not tied down by the needs of the other crafts in medicine. And we need a group of GPs prepared to take action.’

GP and media medic Dr Roger Henderson, argued that mass resignation should be a last resort.

He told delegates: ‘I do not want to have that conversation with my Mrs Trellises, saying “today I’m a GP, tomorrow I’m not. You can see me, but it’ll cost you £100… That’s not my way of doing general practice.’

Instead, he advocated a ’militant work-to-rule’, which would involve a wealth of non-GMS work being halted, including only doing palliative care visits, bouncing back secondary care work, and ‘bankrupting your CCG if need be.’

Dr Zoe Norris, spokesperson for the campaign group GP Survival, told delegates that the threat of resignation was what was required to bring the Government to negotiations, and was assured that ministers ‘would blink first’.

She added: ’The only way we’ll succeed is by standing together on this, and they will blink first if we do. The NHS cannot run without GPs, whatever they think.

Readers' comments (26)

  • @Dr Roger Henderson, the more appropriate question is why on earth are we (as a profession) even doing unfunded work in the 1st place?

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  • Tthe speakers are simply head in the sand apologists who will watch while the profession dies,

    Only do palliative care visits? It's in the contract. Individual doctors will get picked off with GMC referrals. Bankrupt your CCG? Watch again, as individuals are referred to GMC for squandering resources,

    MRs Trellesis will have to get used to the fact that she is going to have to pay for her appointments like the vast majority of people in the rest of the developed world, and tough on her if she doesn't like it,

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  • So mass resignation one at a time it is then.

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  • Lions led by donkeys. GPs need to take this on. Have been badly let down by the RCGP, BMA, GMC, the deaneries and especially the old boys. A complete lack of leadership.

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  • Only 1 in 5 willing to support mass resignation. double that against the idea. Individual resignation it is then!

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  • I'm a GP. I want to be loved by my patients. I will just hold back and let government do what they need to knowing that eventually they will change because they are good people underneath.They will change, won't they...

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  • oh dear

    ok - when are we going to have this independent of the BMA GP group ? never

    if i was Jeremy i would be jumping up and down with joy as this green lights what we have all been saying that it is all talk and no trousers. he might as well put in for 24/7 GP care and half funding.

    as i thought the only way we are going to get any progress is when the older generation of GPs go - by then it will be too late.

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  • The cavalry are not coming. Being a GP is now impossible and unsustainable. There is no alternative way to be a GP except overseas. Resign to survive and change career if you can't emigrate or retire. GPs are frogs being boiled.

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  • Just stop accepting new patients in the interest of patient safety as list sizes go up due to GP shortages.
    Millions of patients wandering around looking for somewhere to register will soon bring the govt to its senses and restore take home to 2004 levels.

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  • GPs select 'friends' who suck up to them before LMC/BMA elections and then they have this impotent GPC who they wish would fight for them. Don't vote same local activists next time i.e. if there will be a next election.
    Meanwhile, your local Chairman is probably rubbing his hands in glee as privatization of Federation formed with the CCG bosses means potential bonanza on sale.

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  • I agree. There are plenty of options that would not play into the hands of the Govt. As per Anon@7.56, closure of lists can be justified on safety grounds - wandering patients would then have to use WICs and A&E without blame falling on responsible practice. How about a mass list closure of lists at all practices above a certain weighted list size per GP?

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  • 'Anonymous | GP Partner29 Sep 2015 3:19pm

    So mass resignation one at a time it is then.'

    Absolutely ...that's what's currently happening! It's almost Darwinian. Slowly but surely the profession is disintegrating and all that will remain are servants who do as they are told. Frankly rather pathetic.

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  • The threat of closure will also cause the millions of young who are not on any lost to register with a GP leading to a significant rise in incomes.

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  • Yes it is time for mass resignation to force change

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  • I'm afraid a strike will never happen as things currently stand. Look at the pensions fiasco a few years back to see why.
    We are, as a profession are divided, but more importantly we are afraid and rightly so. But our fear is not rooted in concerns of being laid off, or even losing pay during the strike periods, the fear goes right to the heart of being a doctor.

    Whether or not you like it the Hippocratic Oath, as quaint as it may seem to some, really does run through our DNA. It has given all but the most fraudulent and malevolent of us impulses that we can neither control nor resist. Top of that list is do no harm. So as intelligent and sentient beings all doctors know that a full on strike will result in harm of varying degrees to their patients, the impulse to not do this will be so strong as to create a cognitive dissonance which will result in negative feelings such as guilt and worthlessness in many who may which to strike. Very similar emotions in fact to going before the GMC's MTPS fitness to practice panel.

    I think the only to combat these impulses is actually to go on one of the many 'resilient training' courses advocated and organised (extortionate fee a pre-requisite)by the GMC, RCGP and BMA. At least that way these organisations would have contributed at least one positive thing to the profession during this current apocalypse - namely to enable us to grow a pair and act on the courage of our convictions!

    Viva la revolution!!!

    Disillusioned GP Partner (3.75yrs)

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  • This vote was a foregone conclusion. We get the leaders we vote for and they don't give a damn.

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  • Zoe, at least we have one person with balls. Hats off to you for sticking to your guns !

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  • @8:52 : List closure is allowed by NHSE only for LMC Chairpersons who do not have to consult with neighbouring Practices and nobody dares question their decision. Closure of list despite boasting in the local newspaper weeks earlier that they have 1 Gp for 2000 patient.

    The gift of gab is not an indicator of honesty but persuades people to elect them.Is it surprising only 20% voted for the motion.

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  • Forget it then. I'm out.

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  • Let's be honest. 2004 contract opened the way to this. They greased us up and painlessly shafted us because the shit sandwich tasted ok because of the bread was thick and tasty. Now the shit has got shittier and the bread thinner and less crusty!
    Sorry about the words but if they threw us some more bread we'd invest it where it is needed, not on more shit filling!

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  • I think it is utterly pathetic trying to blame the GPC's failures on BMA structures. The reality is that GPC members have a completely different agenda to the GP workforce.

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  • Ha ha ha PM 10:09: GPC share the blame with BMA as both have belied hoe and trust

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  • GP's complain that they cannot survive on their current income so if they all resign, how would they survive financially?

    If they all resigned and a solution was found, there would be no guarantee that all GP's would be reemployed, the government would cherry pick suitable practices.

    GP's won't close lists because they get income from them, it is wrong that a GP can take on more patients when it cannot meet the needs of the patients it already has.

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  • interesting ...

    is the the same constraints that are supporting junior doctors in their ballot of strike action that are holding back the GPC?

    any concrete plans re: separation from BMA? nope so more pie in the sky.

    agree though that GPC/BMA has done a fantastic job in securing pension for over 50s and dumping on the rest of us.

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  • just a general thought - what would happen to the over 50's pensions if GPs walked out ?

    bit of an incentive not to rock the boat one thinks?

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  • I like Zoe Norris;she's the only one who talks any sense

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