The BMA has rejected NHS England’s GP access plan and said it intends to ballot the profession on industrial action.
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The motion further instructed the GPC to negotiate a ‘comprehensive’ new GP contract to ‘replace the outdated, underfunded, unlimited, unsafe workload’ of the current one.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.
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)