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Why the 'nuclear option' of mass resignation won't work

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So, wow, that was exciting, almost. I mean, I wasn’t there at the special LMC’s conference, but I felt like I was, thanks to Pulse’s live blog. 

And it seems that, given the impassioned mass-undated-resignation speech tub-thumping from Drs Katie, Clare and Fay, those medicopoliticians have, at last, grown a pair. Of ovaries, obviously.

A nuclear option is going to look really stupid if it blows up in our faces, or if it doesn’t go off at all

As so many said with reference to this ‘nuclear option’, if not now, when? Well, the answer to that appears to be oooh, let’s say six months, shall we, by which point the GPC might begin to start contemplating, as an inkling of a possibility, a ballot/survey on undated resignations, and we’ll have had time to take all the wrapping off Mr Hunt’s famous package.

And that, let’s face it, represents a significant defusing of our big bomb – which is presumably why the media appear to have shown absolutely zilch interest in the story thus far.

But that’s not the only problem with it. The other is, it won’t work. Look, it just won’t. We can come over all Che Guevara as much as we like, but when push comes to shove, I betcha that a significant number of GPs – certainly enough to undermine the idea - just won’t do it, citing things like mortgages, school fees, food, the sudden realisation that they’ll have nowhere else to earn money and the fact that, you know what, maybe things aren’t that bad after all. It’s bluster on a huge and transparent scale.

Besides, has the idea of unsigned resignations actually been thought through? Isn’t the contract with the practice now, rather than with individuals? So the whole practice will have to resign, won’t it? Or is the idea that individual militants might resign from a pacifist partnership, in which case, far from showing strength in solidarity, we’ll be the agents of our own disintegration?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as agitated about the Future of General Practice As We Know It as the next man/woman/partner/salaried Dr/locum etc. And I’m desperate, like you, to give the stupid Government a significantly deviated nasal septum. It’s just that a nuclear option is going to look really stupid if it blows up in our faces, or if it doesn’t go off at all. So if not now, maybe when we have a clearly focused issue we can all agree on, and we’ve figured out how the bomb works.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield

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Readers' comments (20)

  • Perhaps a test detonation of no OOH for 1 month . If that goes off ok we might try for the Tsar Bomba .

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  • "Or is the idea that individual militants might resign from a pacifist partnership, in which case, far from showing strength in solidarity, we’ll be the agents of our own disintegration?"

    No that probably isn't the LMC idea but it might well break the inertia. At least individual's lives will be improved.

    Ditch the contract comrades!

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  • 1207
    Carthago delenda est!
    If we all "ditch the contract" comrade you will have no-one to work for!
    Give it a rest

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  • @ 5.31,
    I would suggest that was an entirely appropriate use of the phrase. You clearly do not get it in spite of your classical education. I don't want to work for the current shambles. I want to see general practitioners regain the dignity and respect they deserve and work in a system that remunerates them fairly and does not work them into the ground. That will never happen with the current contract now will it? Don't worry I won't say you know what this time as that would just prove you right.

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  • You don't know what your talking about copperfield. Even if 50% of partners resign overnight it will be enough to create havoc. Imagine if GP's provided no OOH for one week - it will completely destroy hospitals!

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  • Realise the government has an aversion to 'nationalized' public sector bodies and the NHS is the biggest of all. The tory press particularly the ' Daily nail in the coffin of the nhs'! Would love to blame the demise of the NHS on us' greedy 'doctors - there are lots of prime jobs to be had in the private companies that would love to profit from ill health so theres plenty of incentive to say goodbye to our current primary care system held dear by patients. The unnecessary 7 day access is a smokescreen to further disenfranchise those at the coal face (no longer a UK phenomenon) and I bet the new contract will force gp's to be involved or lose money. Tread very carefully colleagues - the government and their press cronies have their strategies to further f**k us up. I concur the NHS needs reform as demand inexorably increases but clinicians should be at the forefront (*including our nurse/paramedical colleagues) rather than bean counting managers. Reform cqc to be less like the kgb, nhse to actually be helpful and ccg's to be truly representative of grassroots working gp's.

    BEST WISHES COLLEAGUES AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!! X

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  • ... And don't get me started on the GMC and it's trail of gp's who have committed suicide or have suffered mental health problems.... And we are paying for it! Nor the rcgp with its academics who have limited appreciation about 'jobbing'gp's or the question mark about raciasm (*I'm white Caucasian english) - with these there's no wonder politicians feel they can ride roughshod over us. The ombudsman is overwhelmed after nhse take ages not to resolve complaints - what happened to local resolution?... "I could go on but I'm up at six for a busy 12 hour day!

    Take care

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  • This is not a threat, rather it's the answer. Leave the NHS - en masse or individually!

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  • See 5.31. The comrades are mobilising!

    Hasta la vista baby!

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  • The comrades got it going on! Time to enlighten and reform those cardigans. You went on too long unchecked and unchallenged. Hang your heads in shame and retire. You know who you are.

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder