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GPC England votes to ballot GP partners on ‘collective action’

GPC England votes to ballot GP partners on ‘collective action’

The BMA will soon ballot GP partners on ‘collective action’ following a successful vote at the GP Committee England (GPCE) meeting today.

GPCE members have voted through a motion to proceed with a ‘non-statutory ballot’, which means any action taken by GP partners will ‘not involve contract breaches’.

The BMA has suggested that instead GP partners could limit appointments to the union’s ‘safe working maximum’ of 25, or reject workload dump by stopping or reducing ‘work that they’re not formally contracted to do’.

The committee indicated that this is a ‘first phase’ of action, and that ‘further escalation’ beyond a non-statutory ballot can be stopped if the Government agrees to make ‘contractual improvements’ in 2024/25 and restore GP funding to 2018/19 levels.

Committee chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer warned that if ministers do not take their concerns ‘seriously’, they will have ‘no choice’ but to urge members to vote ‘yes’ in the ballot.

This vote follows a referendum by the GPCE which found that 99% of GPs did not agree with the recent contract imposition, as well as the committee officially declaring a ‘dispute’ with NHS England.

According to the union, the core funding uplift of ‘just 1.9%’ could force some surgeries to ‘shut their doors for good before autumn 2024’, highlighting that some practices have already taken the decision to close since April.

‘Despite these warnings, the Government has so far failed to make any improvements to the contract, prompting the committee to launch a ballot on collective action,’ the BMA said.

Primary care minister Andrea Leadsom has recently sought to remind GPs that the 1.9% is still ‘pending’ the Government’s response to the upcoming DDRB recommendation on GP pay.

But the the GPCE said today that there is ‘little faith’ among GPs that this ‘will be enough’ or that it will be timely enough to stop closures.

Depending on the result of the ballot, which will run online from 17 June to 29 July, GP partners may be directed to stop fit notes, prescriptions or investigations ‘which should have taken place in the hospital setting’.

If there is a majority vote, GPs will be able to take collective action such as this ‘immediately’.

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Dr Bramall-Stainer said she and her team have been ‘warning the Government for some time now’ that action will be necessary without ‘drastic improvements’ to the contract.

She said: ‘GP services have been eroded to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds in recent years, with over a thousand practices lost across England.

‘There is funding but practices are forbidden from using it to hire more GPs and more practice nurses, which is just crazy given the patient experience in trying to see their family doctor.’

‘Today should act as a wake-up call to Government that GPs are ready to stand and fight to protect their practices and patients,’ she added.

GPCE motion in full

Following the overwhelmingly positive profession wide referendum result in March 2024, GPC England affirms its commitment to proceed with plans for a non-statutory ballot, inviting GP contract-holding members of the BMA to vote in favour of taking part in collective action to protect their practices and protect their patients.

Proposer: Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer (chair)

Seconder: Dr Samira Anane (deputy chair)

Number who voted for: 57

Number who voted against: 0

Number who abstained: 1


          

READERS' COMMENTS [15]

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

Yes Man 16 May, 2024 1:40 pm

Herding cat’s anyone? Joking aside, a strict 25 patient limit will push the NHS over and this is what we want?! Right?!

John Graham Munro 16 May, 2024 2:22 pm

——–”rounding up toddlers at daycare”———–

So the bird flew away 16 May, 2024 2:32 pm

The BMA’s suggestions won’t work. Wrt trade unionism, the BMA fails at the first hurdle by itself dividing the GP profession. In my city (approx split into one-thirds each of contractors, salaried and locums), the two-thirds experienced and dedicated non-contractor GP majority will be saddened that their opinion regarding taking action over the future of primary care doesn’t matter to the BMA. Bad form.

Not on your Nelly 16 May, 2024 4:13 pm

This is a poor show. We shouldn’t be doing any of the work in the first place that we are threatening to stop. This will make no difference to anyone. forget the ballot, just stop doing the work. it will make sweet funk all difference.

L-J Evans 16 May, 2024 4:20 pm

As a Portfolio GP, I couldn’t disagree more to STBFA’s statement. The BMA is not asking Sessionals to take action on the contract as it has no direct effect on us. Sessionals and Locums are employed by and for Partners, so we need to take our asks to GPC and support the Partners in taking theirs to Government. No-one has asked the Consultants to take action on behalf of the Doctors in Training, have they? This is a really positive first step and I hope the whole profession can get behind it.

L-J Evans 16 May, 2024 4:21 pm

As a Portfolio GP, I couldn’t disagree more to STBFA’s statement. The BMA is not asking Sessionals to take action on the contract as it has no
effect on us. Sessionals and Locums are employed by and for Partners, so we need to take our asks to GPC and support the Partners in taking theirs to Government. No-one has asked the Consultants to take action on behalf of the Doctors in Training, have they? This is a really positive first step and I hope the whole profession can get behind it.

Not on your Nelly 16 May, 2024 4:31 pm

Why is the referendum asking us to do what we should be doing anyway? waste of time?

Post Doc 16 May, 2024 5:55 pm

Anything less than undated resignations from a majority of contractors seems unlikely to worry the Government. Given the liabilities that contractors face including leases, staff costs and potential redundancy payments, mass
resignation will be a long odds bet.

So the bird flew away 16 May, 2024 6:10 pm

L-J Evans, I have no disagreement with your legal and technical interpretation of the BMA’s limited ballot. However, my feelings are that this Govt has for the last 14 years been carrying out a full scale assault on the NHS and especially general practice in which I have worked as a contractor, salaried and finally locum GP. So what I was trying to say, clearly clumsily, is that imo the BMA should have made the politically savvier choice of having this ballot on collective (??) action inclusive of equally hardworking and dedicated salaried and locum GPs’ views. I feel they have straightaway divided the profession, played into the govt’s hands and maybe done the govt’s job for them. We shall see.
But I hope at least we can both agree that what we want are GP services that work for us and our patients (which include our family members).

John Clements 16 May, 2024 6:44 pm

Complete failure by GPC to exclude and alienate half of the GP workforce and also future GPs by not involving them in the vote.

Some Bloke 16 May, 2024 9:32 pm

Great offer Dr Bramnal-Stainer!
Funny how those who have excluded themselves willingly from real life GP- locums, salaried, portfolio lot- feel righteous sense of being unfairly excluded now.
It needs to be done. Carefully. The locums will be happy to be hired for anyone who would “cover” their shifts, it doesn’t matter where paycheck is coming from. Ambulance, 111, trusts, rest of nhs family.
They’re still people with interest in the future of healthcare here and we are mostly ready for action.

Scottish GP 17 May, 2024 10:25 am

Disappointing as above that non-principals and so it would seem, non BMA members ignored.

So the bird flew away 17 May, 2024 5:52 pm

L-J Evans in reply to your second point about putting our “asks” to GPC which to me instinctively feels mediaeval, I would say the following. In the Middle Ages, peasants owed allegiance and trusted to the lord who acted on their behalf, fealty was sworn. In Victorian England, in pocket boroughs, the powerless were forced by the powerful families and landowners to give their votes to them. In the early 20th century, suffragettes fought and died for the right to vote. In 2024 the BMA disenfranchises about half of GPs. I don’t trust to “asking” GPC or GP contractors to take my opinion to account. I expect to be given the vote.
To “some bloke” what can I say except he makes it clear what he thinks of his salaried and locum colleagues, and on expanding the franchise to all BMA members.

Some Bloke 17 May, 2024 9:44 pm

Bird, you are not an arbiter in this stand off. If you are not prepared to put your money where your mouth is, better not to open the mouth. Your interests are very different from those who are prepared to really invest in their surgeries. Your opinion is of academic interest. Maybe it’s better to fly away than pretend to care for something that you have already had chosen to not do.

So the bird flew away 18 May, 2024 10:11 am

Bloke, don’t try hustling me son, and get yourself an education. You’re right, my hard-earned interest is for the whole of the primary care service, as yours is for greed and profit. The Rotten Minority of contractors/CDs/PCN drs, perhaps you’re one of them, earning £150-£200k have helped deliver every hare-brained scheme of the Govt over the last 14 years and fractured general practice into what it is now so your self-serving contractor’s opinion is no more important than mine. If your type had guts you’d be threatening to shut doors or go the dentist’s way, not whingeing++ then settling for a bit more money.
About educating yourself, start with A is for Apple, by Ladybird books and try not to froth at the mouth..