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At the heart of general practice since 1960

LMCs have bitten the bullet, now Jeremy Hunt has to listen

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There was only one motion that people were talking about all day at the Special LMC Conference. But it was not certain to pass.

The motion calling for mass resignation was watered down at the last minute, so that the GPC has to ‘canvas support’ in six months rather than ‘request’ it. At the beginning of the conference, the GPC’s Dr John Canning stood up and called on the conference to bin the whole agenda and it was ‘not up to the job’.

His call was voted down and the day continued, but as I sounded out a number of delegates during the day, there was a mixed response to the idea of calling for mass resignation. Some said it was the wrong move, others saying it did not go far enough. ‘Why wait six months?’ said one GP.

But as the debate started the atmosphere in the room changed. Young Buckinghamshire GP Dr James Murphy proposed the motion with a plea that ‘we can’t go on like this’.

LMC leaders lined up to support his motion and the speeches were very emotional, with many near to tears as they urged the conference to back the motion. A patently furious Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said she had just had a meeting with her partners about their practice’s future. She asked: ‘If not now, then when?’

‘We have to act now, they are killing us anyway’ said Dr Naomi Beer to huge cheers.

The zenith came when conference favourite Dr Fay Wilson came on stage. She railed against the GPC executive team: ‘The nicely, nicely campaign is not working’.

Dr Wilson then turned to the old guard and addressed them directly, saying that although they may be just about to retire they had to back this call for the younger generation. ‘Do it for James and his kids. Do it for Katie,’ she said. Many older colleagues noticeably shifted in their seats.

There was a brief moment of silence as the motion was carried, but then many were on their feet cheering, relieved that they had something concrete to take back to GPs in their area. And in a day long on strong speeches and moving words, but short on new policy, it felt like a major breakthrough.

But - as a slightly subdued Dr Chaand Nagpaul said before the vote - what matters now is whether the profession can truly rally around its leaders and remain united. Crying wolf is not an option.

The ball is now firmly in Richmond House’s court. The health secretary’s new ‘package’ of measures to help general practice (due next month) will have to deliver - in a way his ‘new deal’ most certainly did not.

Otherwise Jeremy Hunt could find himself with a loaded gun placed firmly next to his head.

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse

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Readers' comments (11)

  • Yes those who are left resign . Too,late for me coz I've gone . About time we followed the junior Doctors and stood up to the Government

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  • As Dan Quayle was "no Jack Kennedy"
    - Gps are "no Junior Doctors".

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1)The whole non-cooperation campaign(which should consists of a lot more than just 'a nuclear deterrent' )needs to start at somewhere . As I said , other 'activities' need to be debated on.
    (2) The hardest part in any form of civil disobedience is how one can awaken supporters to join. Quite frankly , most of my partners in the practice did not know about this emergency conference yesterday . Yes, some colleagues have already given up their membership of BMA ( understanable) .
    (3) Never straight forward with ballot like this. Representative democracy is always indirect and our leaders will only go along with 'mandates'.History will judge.Younger people are more easily blood-boiled and mobilisation hence is faster. The older we are , more 'sceptical' we are and more 'baggages' we are carrying .

    You have to 'believe' before you 'succeed' (sorry, my philosophical cr*p again)and we clearly need missles on top of a nuclear bomb......

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  • Vinci Ho

    This is unique and extraordinary point of time in the history of our profession. Extraordinary time needs extraordinary mentality. The door is always there if one chooses not to believe anymore . But the interesting question is,' what do we really lose by supporting the campaign?' Winning is never going to happen if one still carries the baggage of being afraid of losing......

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  • Vinci Ho

    Nigel
    Notice that date of the blog was 27/1.
    Have you really found the new skill to see the future, Jon Snow?(can't wait for the next season of GOT)

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  • If only. I have corrected that

  • Nigel - spot on again. The Juniors enjoyed success for two reasons - they showed stunning unity, and they were able to 'land a punch' in the words of Simon Stevens. Unless we can do both we will fail.

    The problem is that their cost of action was considerably lower - one day's wage. For GPs to resign they risk everything financially, and so the barrier to participation is so much higher unless we have helped them establish viable exit plans.

    I'm disappointed that we haven't really offered any credible threats to ramp up to this, and build unity through consolidating in action. Jumping from declaration of war to nuclear holocaust is quite a tough move to inspire and justify.

    Universally voting out our elected CCG members would have been a largely harmless but politically very poigniant message (ie 'not in my name'). Class actions against the GMC for corporate manslaughter, and against NHSE for non-payment would also have sent powerful messages.

    We must now be wise about how we use the next 6 months. Its not a period of waiting, but a ramp up time. FIGH FIGHT FIGHT.

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  • "GPs vote to axe care home visits"
    How was that distilled out of the conference to run as front page news?
    Already had a patient in to check I will still be caring for their relative!!
    Darker forces at work?

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  • Yes the media can be very sneaky can't it?

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  • can't wait for Jeremy's package. rumor has it won't be much to look at, won't last long and will leave everyone generally unsatisfied.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Do we really need politicians?
    No, particularly in NHS. West democracy is fundamentally about people . Survey after survey has confirmed we are most trusted by people and where is politician on the 'league table'? By this simple logic , people need their GPs not politicians.
    Some people may say 'you simply play with populism' but I would say populism is a double-edge sword . At least , in countries with fully developed democracy , people's opinions are allowed to go and change one way or the other. This is not the case otherwise in China, Russia , etc(no need to mention North Korea!). A mentor of politics told me these countries with fully developed democracy(US, Britain , France etc)can never invade each other with military force , like in their history, anymore. Interesting point.
    As far as how to change people's views , it is still about debating rather than brainwashing . Internet offers freedom of publication and speech but can also be 're-packaged' by a government (e.g. Chinese) to brainwash people with censored informations. Bottom line is whether people are given choices .
    Then again, like everything with advantages and disadvantages , one would say too many choices are counter-productive and slowing down efficiency. (Remember the 'twisted' philosophy when Agent Hunt said there were too many choices in the case of the child died of sepsis after NHS111 call?)
    When it comes to political debates , our system has been run by an indirect democracy with representative politics and hence we have politicians to represent us. Practical but never ideal. That's why I always say democracy is only there shortly before an election and evaporates rapidly afterwards . In some countries , governments have very a low threshold to trigger a referendum for various welfare issues. Again, the invention of Internet has changed the complexion a lot. One can easily argue we perhaps need a referendum for various issues in NHS.
    Of course , the question is still ' what if the leaders don't listen ?' Then I would ask,' has the large majority of people considered them as the common enemy to people?' . The side products of this indirect democracy will then include peaceful demonstration , protest , civil disobedience , industrial action and non-cooperation campaign as long as they are just under the boundary of the law. Key words here are large majority , common enemy and campaign.
    Following through the event(s) in the special LMC conference on Saturday and listening to the feedbacks from my Liverpool LMC colleagues yesterday , I can fully understand the extraordinary sentiments about the outcomes amongst some. Chaand has given a long and emotional speech from a position as a leader of indirect democracy . Not every single bit he mentioned applied absolutely to every corner of general practice in the country but it clearly defined the one single common enemy , the government . I can also understand the theory ,some criticised, GPC/BMA is helping the enemy to destroy us instead. The truth is on many issues , you are damned if you do , damned if you don't. And one can only choose the damnation which will cause the less collateral damages.
    The motion on mass resignation was clearly watered down and has caused more confusion and chaos , in my opinion . Perhaps there was a paranoia initially that something 'positive' could not be passed and hence the wording of the motion was altered in the day. I would rather the motion to remain as it was . Whichever way the result of the votes went , we should all respect the spirit of democracy even though it is indirect . This watered down version clearly has disappointed those who want more actions and attracted more criticism from those who never think this is a wise move. Nobody seemed to be really 'happy' at the end of this conference.
    After all , this motion seems to have now hijacked the whole conference and we all took eyes off the other passed motions . Not surprisingly , the media would have an immediate spin on the more 'juicy' issues as far as patient care is concerned e.g. nursing home visits.Our anti-spinning machine got caught right away. What about motion on CQC and its criminal ask for more annual fees?
    The other part of the story is the junior doctors' strike. The fact that we could not 'unite' absolutely on the issue of mass resignation should not throw doubts on other aspects of this , I call it, non-cooperation campaign. The youngsters had over 90% ballot mandate to prepare for this serial industrial actions. The campaign is meant to be long and sustained and need every bit of support.
    One day of politics is too long. Flinch and blink , you lose eye on the big picture.......
    Some lessons to learn , Chaand.....

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