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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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