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GPs do not have ‘a particular desire’ to strike over pay, RCGP chair tells MPs

GPs do not have ‘a particular desire’ to strike over pay, RCGP chair tells MPs

GPs are not showing ‘a particular desire’ to strike or take industrial action over pay, the RCGP chair has told MPs.

In a hearing with the House of Commons health and social care committee today, Professor Kamila Hawthorne answered questions relating to the recently-published NHS long-term workforce plan.

The committee posed questions about NHS strikes as well as pay negotiations for next year.

Professor Hawthorne said: ‘At the moment, GPs are not showing a particular desire to strike or to think about industrial action. However, GP trainees are members of our college and we have to support them.

‘We are not a trade union, we don’t enter into pay disputes at all, so there’s very little I can say other than concurring that it’s time for some direct negotiation and really getting people around the table to sort this out.’  

Pulse revealed in May that the BMA’s own GP committee figured there was ‘zero chance’ of the profession agreeing upon industrial action at the moment.

Also in today’s hearing, Professor Hawthorne told MPs that on retention, the workforce plan ‘is just not ambitious enough’, adding: ‘The modelling suggests that there would be plus 700 GPs in retention by 2036 – that is just not nearly enough.’

She added: ‘What we don’t see is enough on retention, we are currently losing GPs faster than we are gaining them.

‘Since I became chair of council last November we lost 930 full-time equivalent GPs in England, and that’s with GP trainees still coming though the other end.

‘That is really worrying and dispiriting, and we are finding that people are leaving the profession at all stages.’

And she said: ‘There is nothing at the moment that would stop a GP from leaving other than hope on the horizon.’

Professor Hawthorne was a witness alongside GMC’s chief executive Charlie Massey, RCN England director Patricia Marquis as well as writer and former doctor Adam Kay.

Mr Massey also told MPs that retention is ‘a really critical issue’ for the short and medium terms.

He said: ‘I think there is a lot more to do around retention but we should embrace the fact that there is a chapter [about that in the plan] and take that as an invitation to help with the details.’

He also said the GMC’s finding that trainers are at high risk of burnout was a ‘risk’ to the success of the plan.

Dr Kay told MPs the plan was ‘vague’ and agreed it lacked detail on how to retain staff, focusing instead of bringing retired doctors back into the workforce.

He said: ‘Recruit back retired doctors – that’s not retention, that’s resuscitation. What are we actually doing to keep the staff in? And wellbeing is a huge part of it, but so is pay.

‘I think it’s borderline laughable that pay gets not a single sentence [in the plan], it needs to be acknowledged as a crucial thing.’

When the plan was published at the end of June, GP leaders called the Government and NHS England out on their lack of plans to retain existing GPs.

A Pulse investigation published last week also looked at all the stages in which GPs decide to leave the workforce, including training, mid-career and early retirement.


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

Steve McOne 12 July, 2023 5:37 pm

Um yeah I do. I’d strike over pay in a heart beat, if the opportunity ever arises. Just to show the public/politicians what they’re taking for granted.

Darren Tymens 12 July, 2023 6:08 pm

Hopelessly inadequate from the RCGP, as usual.
More complacent nonsense from someone close to retirement who has done Ok financially and doesn’t mind watching the ship sink because she won’t be in it when it goes down. This sort of nonsense is why I left 4 years ago. I am £2K better off as a result and at least know I am not funding this rubbish. Not in my name, RCGP.

Salaried GPs need a big and fully-funded uplift, right now.

Also, how on earth is Adam Kay representing the profession? He hasn’t been in practice for 13 years, and is a writer/comedian. Why not get Harry Hill? Or Graeme Garden?

James Booth 12 July, 2023 6:24 pm

It strikes me that Professor Hawthorne would have simply been better suggesting to MPs that this was a question for the BMA and refraining from further comment…

Centreground Centreground 12 July, 2023 6:25 pm

RCGP is and has always been one of the most ineffective and inept groups in my opinion that I could imagine. I have wasted decades of subscriptions to this hopeless body and it will only be of use in my view to those who wish to profit from teaching the overpriced courses , the pointless MRCGP which I have and of no real value or if I wish a trip to the place by obtaining some equally useless position within this establishment in the hope of some Royal honour.

David Church 12 July, 2023 6:34 pm

If this was a BMA or other UNION representative, her approach could be described as ‘shooting one-self in the foot’; but she is not a Union rep or GPC Rep at all, so in fact what she is doing is stabbing the Union rep in the back !
There is no worse negotiating position than an opening gambit of ‘We are not going to strike over pay, whatever you do to us’.
I am not even sure she understands GP training any more. If GP trainees have already passed the Membership Examination, then why are they still Trainees and represented instead of by a Union, by the College instead?
At least she admitted that it is her chairmanship of College Council that is responsibkle for the loss of 930 FTE GPs in the last 7 months!
I think Mr Massey has done particluarly well in comparison. He has clearly realised that his affiliation with the GMC has made him really unpopular with Doctors in general, and he is looking for some friends amongst GPs by putting the case for a pay rise, well, for salaried GPs at least, but that could act as some kind of yardstick for the rest of us. Well done Mr GMC.
And Gordon Kaye – well I think he made great effforts for the freedom of France and Louvian.

Sam Macphie 12 July, 2023 6:51 pm

DT makes a good point about Adam Kay; I suppose it’s free publicity is it. Nevertheless he perhaps knew just how bad things were managed (13 years ago) and saw how much worse NHSE would be at managing our precious NHS today. Even so, perhaps some more recent professional would have seemed more appropriate. Incidentally, to what does the 2K refer? is that per week, per month, per year or over a lifetime? Perhaps become a comedy author or broadcaster, like Kay, to be a great deal better off, however what kind of vocation would that be, being invited to Parliament and the like?

John Graham Munro 12 July, 2023 6:59 pm

G.Ps strike?——–and the band played ”believe it if you like”

Turn out The Lights 12 July, 2023 9:04 pm

Just confirms my decision to stop contributing to the white elephant in euston square was the right one.We will strike but it will be then so gradual ebbing away of the workforce.I will reduce my clinical time by 2/3rds in April as not long after that will leave the profession.Would rather stack shelves in Tescos at the moment at least I would get 10 % DISCOUNT AND WOULDNT BE EXPECTED TO DO UNFUNDED WORK.WHAT A SHOWER YOU ARE RCGP.

Ian Haczewski 12 July, 2023 10:48 pm

Plenty of GPs in our part of the world would definitely consider a strike if the opportunity arose !

a S 12 July, 2023 11:08 pm

i don’t know why theses leaders keep going on about retention. We have an open visa policy for the NHS so now there is no locum work or OOH shifts left . There are too many GP’s for the amount of money government wants to spend on primary care. Shut the door or increase funding ( to GP’s not private companies).

Merlin Wyltt 13 July, 2023 8:37 am

GPs aren’t striking-they are leaving

Failed NHS managers are “promoted” to NHS England
I guess failed doctors become comics

Turn out The Lights 13 July, 2023 9:18 am

MW or high ups in the political establishment.

Gerald Clancy 13 July, 2023 10:20 am

As usual, the RCGP leadership out of touch with the views of working GPs. To remain silent on the year on year reduction in the value of the GMS contract as well as associated income streams, given the huge impact on GPs’ wellbeing and ability to care for their patients, is nothing short of a dereliction of responsibility. To fail to acknowledge that the erosion of pay and conditions are having a detrimental effect on the GP workforce is spineless.

I would be interested to know the evidence base for her assertion that GPs have no desire to consider industrial action – it is regularly discussed and it is on the table as indeed it should be where collective bargaining efforts are being continually rebuffed by a Health Secretary whose philosophy is that doctors (and all other professionals) should just accept year on year pay reductions despite DDRB legislation which clearly stipulates that pay for doctors should NOT be suppressed as part of an wider economic strategy. This is the price that the Royal Commission agreed the state must pay to retain access to a doctor workforce under a monopoly provider, It is nothing less than a contract between government and the medical profession, and the government has been in breach since 2010.

Daryl Mullen 13 July, 2023 2:36 pm

I don’t have a desire to be represented by someone so clearly out of touch with the realities of general practice

Samir Shah 17 July, 2023 3:33 pm

Still waiting to hear the completion of the sentence, Professor Hawthorne.
Please take your pick from the choices below:
‘GPs are not showing ‘a particular desire’ to strike or take industrial action over pay.
They have a desire to take industrial action over….
1. Patient safety
2. Systematic desecration of healthcare.
3. the government’s wish to privatise healthcare and increase costs exponentially.
4. the government’s intentions of wrecking the workforce, and profiteer from the dismantling.
Please complete the phrase soon…..or redact and let the GPC answer for themselves.