This site is intended for health professionals only

Industrial action will not see practices ‘shutting doors’, says BMA GP leader

Industrial action will not see practices ‘shutting doors’, says BMA GP leader

Potential GP industrial action being planned by the BMA is unlikely to involve practices ‘shutting their doors’ to patients, the England GP Committee has revealed.

Instead, GPCE seems to be mainly looking at options that would affect GP interface with other NHS services as well as workload, according to a list shared with delegates at a contract webinar last night.

In the session, GPC England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said GP ‘collective action’, which may take place in November, is going to be ‘totally different’ from action taken by junior doctors or consultants.

The BMA is exploring possibilities that would ‘not put GPs against their patients’ and ‘would not lead to contractual action’, she said.

Although the GPCE chair did not go into detail about what each option would look like, a slide shared with delegates listed action being considered as:

  • who/how we admit
  • who/how we refer via eRS
  • whether we engage with A&G 
  • whether we switch off data-sharing agreements 
  • serve notice on all shared care agreements – no capacity to deliver 
  • no proformas – just write a letter 
  • stop rationing and risk holding patient requests for referrals 
  • give a platinum level of service to the max 25 patients you see a day

According to Dr Bramall-Stainer, the action will have a ‘public-facing narrative’, built on ‘trust’ to ‘repair the toxic damage’ to general practice’s reputation in the media and with the public.

‘It’s not going to be like anything we have seen from junior doctors and from consultants. We are totally different so we will take a totally different approach.’

‘The worst thing we can do is shut our doors and put patients against us,’ Dr Bramall-Stainer said.  

‘Because we are not going to bring the majority of GPs with us, who are going to feel really nervous about what the consequences of that are going to be for patients out there, and where they are going to go.

‘We would be crucified by the right-wing media and that is unfortunately where most patients get their news. We want to impact NHS England and the Government, not our patients.’  

The BMA has set out ‘an approximate timeline’ for GP industrial action, with announcements planned for October and ‘collective action’ to start in late November or early December – aimed at coinciding with the next general election.

Despite the 2024/25 contract being imposed, with NHS England saying it is final and will now be implemented, the GPCE has gone ahead with a referendum on the contract changes open from today until 27 March.

The collective action depends on the referendum outcome and on the GPCE requesting permission in July from BMA UK Council to approve options for prospective industrial action.

This week, the Department of Health and Social Care said that preparations for GP industrial action are ‘disappointing’ ahead of the pay review body’s funding recommendation, which will impact the final GP funding uplift for 2024/25.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Graham Munro 7 March, 2024 4:59 pm

In other words———–business as usual

Steve McOne 7 March, 2024 5:41 pm

Anything short of shutting doors is NOT industrial action. If you think all your patients still like you, then you’re deluded. Follow the dental model and make them pay.

Some Bloke 7 March, 2024 7:36 pm

Call me deluded but I can’t see how alienating the public could help out cause. Unless there’s a fully functional alternative funding model – private, endurance, idk.
GPC proposals seem very sensible and realistic to me.

neo 99 7 March, 2024 9:54 pm

The list of “industrial action” options are thing which we should be doing anyway. This is a recurrence of the previous call to action which was labelled a “damp squib”. Unless you close the doors, no one will give a crap. As for a contractual breach, I suggest bring it on. How on earth will NHSE enforce that?

Not on your Nelly 7 March, 2024 9:54 pm

No surprises again. I won’t be joining the bma and wasting my money.we remain weak and unable to take a stance so will get what we deserve. 2% and continued impositions until partnership’s are removed completely by labour sometime in the next 5 years. Thanks for nothing BMA

So the bird flew away 7 March, 2024 11:31 pm

Shutting the doors is one of two strongest hands the GPC had (the other’s undated mass resignations) . To declare now that they’d never play it is akin to surrendering before the fight’s even begun.
No working GP (or nurse, junior Dr or consultant) wants to harm patients. But HMG’s actions have already done that by severe underfunding, and caused moral injury to doctors and nurses.
This declaration by the BMA prejudging the voting process will just confirm to those grassroots GPs who have always felt they’re being skillfully managed into overseeing their own extinction by NHSE GPs – those that run with the hares and hunt with the hounds – and those BMA GPs who have back channel communications with DHSC in “managing the situation” of us working GPs, so they can be rewarded by promises of future honours.

Turn out The Lights 8 March, 2024 8:09 am

BMA maah.You wont be getting any more monies from me.

Bonglim Bong 8 March, 2024 9:03 am

Shutting the doors is just too complex financially. normally you strike and you lose your individual pay. There are no clear cut rules, but I’d imagine you shut the doors, you lose your contractual pay for the day and still have to pay all the staff – making it too difficult to sustain.
– If you attempted that you just wouldn’t get enough buy-in from partners to make it effective.

The answer is to cost the government more money than them agreeing to fund General Practice properly. And it is easy to do that without harming patients. The total funding increase the BMA have asked for is 500 million (£9 increase for 55million in England). The gap to the funding offered is 350Million.

Move 1 million people (out of 7 million on statins) from generic to lipitor/ other branded statin – it would cost an extra £22M per month or £250M / year
2 million prescriptions changed and you will have met the GPC demands in full.
You can extend it from statins to other generic type medicaitons (plavix instead of clopidogrel).
Or you can extend it to providing prescriptions for simple medications (like paracetamol and emmolients) for all who need them medically.

–> no worse off for patients.
–> no breech of contract
–> point made very loudly
–> can get louder and louder in a progressive way through switching more and more people.
–> more partners would take part (as not harming patients and not risking income for themselves or their staff (you would lose any prescribing incentive)
–> And can still be very effective even with moderate numbers of staff taking part.

Zack Magkrachi 8 March, 2024 9:42 am

The Plavix revolution 😂

Steve McOne 8 March, 2024 9:49 am

Bong has the type of ingenuity we GP’s need. The NHS need us, we don’t need them. We can revert back to pre-Bevan days and instantly make more money/have more job satisfaction.

Pradeep Bahalkar 8 March, 2024 11:28 am

Complete shutting of doors was not possible ever unless we were ready to hand back our contract immediately.
We have to hurt government where it hurts them most without jeopardising our situation.
Any policy/ action which will result in more cost to government will be beneficial
1) Prescribing branded drugs instead of generic name (doesn’t breach contract, cost government more money , doesn’t affect patients )
2) Stick to Safe working pattern and direct all extra patients to A&E/ walk in centre.
3) Show our unity by becoming BMA member even if just for a month, so that we have massive turnout for referendum to reject contract and give BMA/GPC mandate to take next course of action.
4) Ultimately threat of undated resignation is still possible if government really wants to shut down GP practices but then onus will be on them and not us.

Rogue 1 8 March, 2024 2:01 pm

Im sorry did the consultants and other hospital doctors see patients in clinic when they were on strike?

Pradeep Bahalkar 8 March, 2024 3:29 pm

Consultants and Trainees are salaried and can go on strike against their employers. We are self employed so who do we strike against ? Moment we close doors we are in breach of contract. We have contract with DH & we are in dispute with them with regards to terms of that contract. Bottom line is we either negotiate for better terms or walk away from negotiations and hand our contracts back.
If we hold a poll now to say How many practices are willing to hand their contract back, I doubt not many practices will come forward.
Many practices will be worried about staff redundancy pay, mortgages on their premises. Practices will finally bite the bullet and vote to hand the contracts back when there is no other choice left. But I guess we haven’t reached that stage yet.

So the bird flew away 8 March, 2024 5:01 pm

Bottom line, whether IA has any chance of success comes down to what GP principals decide (not salaried nor locums).
Re striking, you can strike FOR something and not just against. Striking for better and proper funding for the historically fantastic primary care, and for less admin and targets and regulation etc.
Sums wise, for an average 2,000 patient GP list it will cost them around £2,500 per week in staff wages etc if they shut up shop.
If a GP principal is on £150k (or a GP /PCN director on £200/250k) then taking a hit of £2,500 per week of strike is imho very worthwhile.
Depends on your principals and ideals. But not seeing the wood for the trees and independent contractors will wake up to find they’ve midwifed themselves out of existence by concentrating on IA consisting of cleverly thwarting NHSE. Now’s the time for principals to either strike and shut up shop or hand in mass resignations and let NHS primary care soon become salaried only.
And remember, there are locums out there in their 30s and 40s with young children and mortgages who have over the last few months already been paying the price for this terrible Govt’s last ditch policies to break the NHS, by having earnt nothing, zero, zilch.
Show some support for them.

John Glasspool 8 March, 2024 8:52 pm

It will never happen. And the govt know this. Keep lining up to eat buckets of faeces.

win win 9 March, 2024 4:57 pm

If the hospitals can do it , why can’t the gp’s . This will never happen and GP is thing of the past in the UK .They ALREADY have quick cheap replacements .

Dave Haddock 10 March, 2024 7:07 pm

So how’s that junior doctor strike going?