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BMA to ballot GPs on industrial action against Government’s access plan

BMA to ballot GPs on industrial action against Government’s access plan

The BMA has rejected NHS England’s GP access plan and said it intends to ballot the profession on industrial action.

In an emergency meeting held today, the BMA’s GP committee voted to reject the Government’s plan that was published last week.

The vote also saw the GPC call on practices to ‘disengage from the PCN DES’ – including pausing ARRS recruitment.

It also said the GPC should back any GPs who refuse to cooperate with NHS England’s imposition of ‘pay transparency’ and Covid medical exemption certification.

The latter are the two measures that would amount to industrial action, as they are contractual, a GPC member explained to Pulse.

However the motion also notably called on GP practices to submit undated resignations from the PCN DES to be held by their LMCs – a move likely to cause widespread disruption for commissioners.

It added that these would only be ‘issued on the condition that submissions by a critical mass of more than 50% of eligible practices is received’.

The motion further instructed the GPC to negotiate a ‘comprehensive’ new GP contract to ‘replace the outdated, underfunded, unlimited, unsafe workload’ of the current one.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the measures come as ‘GPs have been left with no alternative but to take this action’.

‘All efforts to persuade the Government to introduce a workable plan that will bring immediate and longer-term improvement for doctors and their patients, have so far come to nought,’ he said. 

‘The Government has completely ignored our requests for a reduction in bureaucracy to allow us to focus more on patient care, and we are therefore encouraging doctors to withdraw from this bureaucracy themselves.

‘The ultimate outcome should be to end the current crisis in general practice, to properly support practices to manage their workload pressure, including safely getting through the backlog of care caused by the pandemic and deliver a safe service to patients, allowing time to create an agreed long-term plan to make general practice sustainable for the future.’

Last week, the Government’s £250m ‘support’ package for GPs – which set out a range of measures to improve access to practices – was met with fierce criticism from GPs and their leaders.

A plan published by NHS England revealed that ICSs must submit a list of practices with the lowest levels of face-to-face appointments by 28 October while patients are to rate GP practices in ‘real time’ via text message, among other things.

Both the BMA and an LMC have already advised GPs ‘not to engage’ with the measures.

The BMA this week revealed that more than half of GPs would consider leaving the NHS if the Government does not provide them with the support they need, according to a survey conducted before the NHS England package was announced.

A separate BMA ‘snap poll’ conducted after the support package was released, found that 93% of GPs said the package is an ‘unacceptable response’ to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the health secretary yesterday said that the Government does not currently plan to introduce new Covid restrictions, despite a sharp rise in case numbers, as pressure on the NHS – including GPs – is ‘not unsustainable’.

Motion in full

That this committee is outraged by the deliberate, relentless denigration of GPs by Government, NHSEI and certain quarters of the media, and: (57/57 – 100% Agree) 

i. rejects the plan published by NHSEI on 14th October 2021 and calls on all LMCs (local medical committees) in England to disengage from any participation with the implementation of that plan (53 agree, 2 disagree, 2 abstain) 

ii. calls on all practices in England to pause all ARRS recruitment and to disengage from the demands of the PCN DES (47 agree, 8 disagree, 2 abstain) 

iii. promises its full support to protect and defend any constituent GPs who refuse to engage or comply with the unreasonable contractual impositions by NHSEI of “Pay Transparency” and “Covid Medical Exemption Certification” (54 agree, 1 disagree, 2 abstain) 

iv.calls on all practices in England to submit undated resignations from the PCN DES to be held by their LMCs, only to be issued on the condition that submissions by a critical mass of more than 50% of eligible practices is received (48 agree, 8 disagree, 1 abstain) 

v. instructs the GPC Executive to negotiate a comprehensive new contract to replace the outdated, underfunded, unlimited, unsafe workload of the current GP contract (49 agree, 6 disagree, 2 abstain) 



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

Douglas Callow 21 October, 2021 5:09 pm

best news for some time GPs must now support the ballot and action last chance saloon time

Reply moderated
Dr N 21 October, 2021 5:53 pm

The box ticking workload from PCNs ES is just stupid.

Samir Shah 21 October, 2021 6:07 pm

Agree, Douglas.

John Glasspool 21 October, 2021 6:12 pm

“Instructs the GPC Executive to negotiate a comprehensive new contract to replace the outdated, underfunded, unlimited, unsafe workload of the current GP contract (49 agree, 6 disagree, 2 abstain) ”

Ah! How I remember that I warned people about the “new” contract and how it was a con-trick. I did it on fora such as DNUK, where we were roundly condemned by BMA loyalists. As indeed we were here IIRC. And stupid GPs, who could see no further than their noses, voted for it by 80% to 20%. I said at the time that I would give it about 2 years till it started to unravel and I was spot on.

An apology from the BMA and it’s running dogs would be nice.

Reply moderated
Turn out The Lights 21 October, 2021 6:18 pm

?As I have withdrawn from the BMA in protest at there ineptitude over the last decade will I still get a vote.I dont want to waste drinking money joining just for a vote.

Reply moderated
Northern Trainer 21 October, 2021 6:21 pm

I’m confused. “Support/defend/protect”. “Instruct”.
I know I’ve been a tad busier than normal but did I miss something and the BMA have been gifted new superpowers? When will all this nonsense end……

Patrufini Duffy 21 October, 2021 6:23 pm

Get out of the PCN DES. Before you’re shackled, herded, named and shamed and slaughtered.

Cameron Wilson 21 October, 2021 6:48 pm

BMA should be working on an alternative model similar to our Dental friends! Agree last chance saloon but suspect without an alternative a lot will hesitate as per the norm! Then it’s just every man for himself as I for one am not prepared to continue the status quo!

Paul Frisby 21 October, 2021 7:12 pm

‘Disengage and pause’, not really fightin’ talk from the prawn sandwich gang is it? And ‘undated’ means no deadline and hence no teeth and no impact.

‘GP’s to stop issuing all repeat prescriptions from tomorrow’ would have been punchier, clear and would have immediate impact. I understand that plenty of other 24/7 apps, and services are available to patients go get prescriptions, and that pharmacies can issue emergency prescriptions at the pharmacist’s discretion.

Even ‘BMA burn cardigans’ would have made the front pages if they had a little bonfire in the street and burned a copy of the PCN DES.

Not on your nelly 21 October, 2021 7:16 pm

Is it a secret ballot or can we see which LMCs voted against certain motions?

Mr Marvellous 21 October, 2021 7:52 pm

Well any new contract needs to be in an item of service basis. That’s it.

Some" Bloke 21 October, 2021 8:07 pm

Seems like a proportional and measured response to NHSE and government’ s poorly thought through dictate. Status quo no longer acceptable to working GPs. Judging by how tone of BMA comments (on government inapt actions) has been escalating over time, think that this time BMA get it. Whatever the outcome of this encounter, the matter isn’t over. Hope to see real change come out of this.

Subhash Chandra Bhatt 21 October, 2021 8:09 pm

Some how I feel nothing will happen . I base opinion on what has happened in past .
Not many gps will sign post dated resignation letter.

Alan Woodall 21 October, 2021 8:18 pm

Now let’s see some actual balls by the profession (not literally:

Doc Getmeout 21 October, 2021 8:29 pm

We can only be appreciated and valued if we stand united.

So we all stick together and fight back OR be manipulated and controlled for the rest of our careers and also safeguard our future GP colleagues.

This time we mean business!

Slobber Dog 21 October, 2021 8:30 pm

Unless an effective treatment is found for the messiah complex, this is probably a waste of time.

Turn out The Lights 21 October, 2021 8:43 pm

If it goes out like a damp firework the exodus will continue within 5 years if not before the NHS will be worse than it is now ,is it me or has it collapsed already?The 1995 cohort of pensioner will leave partnership /substantive posts.The BMA unable to be the voice of the profession will cease to exist, unlike the irrelevance it is now.Grow some BMA and represent your member at all levels.You should have stood behind the juniors before you stabbed them in the back.The time when I took my contribution away and have enjoyed myself with it ever since,Its time the hit/stand up to the bully/abuser win or lose.If you there will be nothing left to save.

Vinci Ho 21 October, 2021 10:11 pm

This is an uncooperative movement, literally.
Ain’t matter whether you were dovish or hawkish .
Ain’t important how the history will judge us .
The ‘right’ thing can only be right to do at the ‘right’ circumstances. At any other situation , it is indeed the wrong thing to do .
For the sake of our following generations of colleagues, there will be nothing if we do not do this ……
‘If this can be tolerated,then what can be called intolerable?’ (是可忍,孰不可忍)

Mr Marvellous 21 October, 2021 10:13 pm

Well that was fast. The local PCN CD has already started rallying around and telling practices to let BMA and HMG resolve whilst they continue with all the PCN DES nonsense. Not that he has any vested interest in the PCN surviving.

This is largely why this is unlikely to go anywhere.

Vinci Ho 21 October, 2021 10:13 pm

….. there will be nothing to save if we do not do this …..

Patrufini Duffy 21 October, 2021 10:55 pm

I am glad this has hit the Guardian. Straighten your spines and buckle up.

Kevlar Cardie 22 October, 2021 8:50 am

Stop signing death certificates. Purely hypothetical.

Mark Cathcart 22 October, 2021 11:10 am

It won’t work, gps are naturally very conservative and cautious and lack the courage to take that leap of faith to initiate change
Several years ago we had a window of opportunity to do the same, we signed our undated resignation letters and BMA belfast gathered them all up to present to government
Sadly not enough gps did this simple thing and momentum was lost
We were left looking silly and inept and government then knew that we hadn’t the nerve to follow through on this threat, the end result was a weakening of our collective bargaining power

Joe Josephus 22 October, 2021 12:52 pm

Subhash Batt and Mark Cathcart:

This is only resignation from the PCN DES, not resignation from the core contract-so very possible that many GPs will participate

David Oliver 22 October, 2021 2:10 pm

If they don’t get on with it the momentum will be lost or we will have all left

Hewa Vitarana 22 October, 2021 4:59 pm

Is not a secret that Handful of GPs in each locality doing financially well with the current contract and I beg them not to comment or act on the current GP contract based on wishful thinking.
The majority of GPs are having to deal with an unsustainable amount of workloads due to this ambiguous GMS contract.
It is time to negotiate a new sensible contract based on activity ( rather than limitless contacts) like every other part of the NHS.
Time to work on a new Contract as soon as possible.

Dylan Summers 23 October, 2021 10:35 am

Wait a minute – when I read the headline I thought we were going on strike.

But actually the article implies the only “industrial action” contemplated is to refuse to publish our pay and to refuse to certify Covid exemptions.

That’s hardly going to strike terror into the heart of the government, is it?

PAUL BALLINGER 26 October, 2021 5:45 pm

There is something very ironic happening when we live in a country with food banks, zero hours contracts and many people on minimum wage struggling with no protection are expected to be sympathetic to a privileged group earning 6 figure salaries on 3 day working weeks with highly protected jobs . Lets face it we are in the top 5percent of the income distribution in comfortable interesting and in my opinion very relaxed occupations.
The righteous indignation felt by GPs is not shared by the general public who are sick and tired of poor access to general practice.
The idea of industrial action is just crazy and most of my colleagues like myself will oppose it wholeheartedly.
if people don’t like working in primary care then let them walk away (quietly please)and leave the majority of us carry on. If you cant stand the heat ….stay out of the kitchen !!

David jenkins 26 October, 2021 7:38 pm

come to locumland – where things are ros(ier).

choose your hours, days, holidays, fees, workload, where you work, etc etc etc. – oh, and rate of pay !!

i worked all day monday.

day off today

tomorrow, thursday, friday i’m working all day, to help out some colleagues.

i don’t care how much crap i have to deal with, or if i miss lunch, because at 6.30pm i am going home.

next week i am working one day only.

my choice.

i am nearly 72.