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Over half of GP practices willing to opt out of PCN DES, suggests BMA ballot

Over half of GP practices willing to opt out of PCN DES, suggests BMA ballot

Results from the BMA’s indicative ballot of GP practices shows a profession ‘on its knees’ and ‘speaks volumes’ about the strength of feeling across the profession’, new GP committee chair Dr Farah Jameel has told the England LMCs conference.

Announcing the results of the ballot Dr Jameel told the conference that 58% of respondents said they would support withdrawal from the PCN DES at the next opt-out period; and 39% said they would be willing to disengage from the PCN DES before then.

In addition, 84% said they would welcome non-compliance with Covid exemption certificates and 80% said they would change the way they report appointment data.

‘Make no mistake this is a profession on its knees and continuing to fight for its existence,’ she said.

In the ballot, one vote was given to each practice with a GP partner who is a member of the BMA with a two-week window to respond.

The response rate was 35% she said.

‘At face value, it may not sound like much but let me tell you to achieve this response rate in such a short space of time speaks volumes about the strength of feeling across the profession.

‘The results showed that GPs and practice staff are frustrated, struggling and are desperate to see change, it is an overwhelming expression of sentiment, a sentiment of discontent and disappointment,’ she said.

She continued: ‘General practice is ready to break, and mark my words, without us the NHS will fail and the principles we all hold dear, the values of fairness and equality which make the NHS so revered and so admired, will all be lost.’

However, Dr Jameel said that her ‘election as the new leader of GPC England’ represents ‘an opportunity for a reset’.

‘It is, naturally, a fresh start for the committee but it also needs to be a fresh start for the profession,’ she said.

She said this would include:

  • rebuilding the GP workforce and placing wellbeing ‘firmly’ at the heart of priorities;
  • giving GPs time to see the patients ‘who need them the most’ as well as time to lead their teams, keep up to date with ‘the revolution in healthcare’ and time ‘to look after themselves; and
  • learning the ‘lessons of the pandemic’ and working ‘with patients and partner organisations to develop the models of consultation for the future based on a blend of traditional and cutting-edge technology’. 

She concluded: ‘Today, I offer the Government and the media the opportunity to participate in this fresh start – to step back from the rhetoric of division, to reflect on the dedication that general practice has shown in the most difficult of circumstances and to demonstrate a willingness to work together to create solutions to this crisis.

‘Let’s work together, let’s build general practice back better.’

The news comes as the BMA’s GP committee learned of the ballot results last week but had been mulling over next steps in private.

BMA indicative ballot results in full

  • 84% said they would be willing to not comply with requests for Covid-19 vaccination exemption certificates;
  • 80% said they would be prepared to participate in a coordinated and continuous change to their appointment book;
  • 58% said they would be prepared to withdraw from the Primary Care Networks DES at the next opt-out period;
  • 39% said they would be prepared to disengage from the Primary Care Networks DES at outside of the next opt-out period.

Furthermore 87% said they would be prepared to refuse to comply with the contractual requirement for GPs to declare their income if it was over £150,000. This policy has since been delayed until at least next Spring.

Response rate for the indicative ballot was 34.95%.

Source: Following the publication of NHSE and the Government’s GP access plan in October, between 1 and 14 November, the BMA surveyed the 5,144 practices in England which have a GP partner who is a member of the BMA – representing approximately 79% of all GP practices in England – on four options they might be willing to take. Each practice was given one vote. BMA received 1,798 eligible responses.



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

Patrufini Duffy 25 November, 2021 4:13 pm

Opted out last year. Act, or be acted on.

Robert James Andrew Mackenzie Koefman 25 November, 2021 4:59 pm

We never joined PCN .i must say i find it hard to understand why only 35% of practices voted .This is why the profession will ultimately fail as too much apathy even though everyone is complaining about workload etc.

Michael Mullineux 25 November, 2021 5:10 pm

With you RJAMK. Apathy, herd mentality of ‘better out than in to influence decision making’ with no evidence this has worked so far as demonstrated by ever more outlandish central proposals, unquestioning adherence to NHSE imposed DES and a complete failure to cost project. Wake up and smell the coffee ..

Patrufini Duffy 25 November, 2021 8:04 pm

Yes MM / RF. Perhaps the profession has Covid anosmia – hard to smell coffee when it’s sheep herded in a pen. To all those practice bathing in extra pots of money and ARRS distraction. Your phone lines are still jammed, your complaints are still high and this time the NHSE bailiffs are coming for you and some data and activity. No pandemic delay now, in what they “need to get done” for the monies they dished out to the hungry.
Like some wise people say, don’t make the same mistake thrice.

Vinci Ho 26 November, 2021 6:39 am

Result as I expected
The bottom line philosophy here is ‘ a problem that be solved by money is not really the most serious problem ‘
The most serious problem(s) in general practice right now clearly cannot be simply solved by money , as being believed by this out-of-touch , lack-of-vision and incompetent government with its head buried in the sand .