A Mail on Sunday article claiming that GPs are threatening to stop participating in the vaccination programme will ‘drive rising levels of abuse’, the BMA has said.
The newspaper article, published over the weekend, claimed that GPs could potentially refuse to give Covid jabs following the BMA’s GP survey on action against NHS England’s access plan.
However, the BMA pointed out on Twitter that this was not an option in the indicative ballot, which in any case would not provide a mandate for action on its own.
An email on the ballot seen by Pulse earlier this month and now published asked whether practices would be prepared to take any or all of five specific actions: withdrawal or disengagement from the PCN DES, disrupting appointment data and industrial action on Covid exemption certificates and pay declarations.
But the Mail on Sunday piece, titled ‘GPs threaten to boycott Covid vaccine’, said: ‘A leaked survey of doctors by the British Medical Association (BMA) suggests surgeries could refuse to administer Covid vaccinations as part of action to oppose naming those who earn more than £150,000.’
It went on to claim a Government source had ‘compared the BMA’s actions to the miners’ unions in the 1980s’. ‘
In response, the BMA’s GP Committee said on Twitter: ‘It is inaccurate to state that the indicative ballot considered withdrawing from the vaccine programme. This was not part of the ballot. We ask that the Mail on Sunday will correct the piece to make this clear.
‘Inaccurate, negative media articles like this drive rising levels of abuse toward NHS staff who need fewer distractions and more support to allow them to focus on patient care.’
It added: ‘It is also important to note that the NHSEI winter access plan states practices should not participate in the vaccine programme if it comes at the expense of providing reasonable access to core GP services.
‘Hardworking GPs and their teams are doing their best to provide accessible, safe care during unprecedented times.’
The Mail on Sunday was approached for comment.
The five options for GP action on the BMA’s indicative ballot:
- Withdrawal from the PCN DES at the next opt-out period, which is not a breach of contract;
- Disengage from the PCN DES before the next opt-out period, which is a breach of the DES contract;
- Refusal to comply with the contractual requirement for ensure GPs declare earnings over £150,000 per year;
- Refusal to comply with the contractual requirement to provide Covid exemption certificates;
- Participate in a ‘coordinated and continuous change to your appointment book’, to affect the quality of the data NHS England are looking to collect.
As well as balloting GPs on industrial action, the BMA has advised practices to immediately start offering consultations of 15 minutes or more and apply to close their patient list, as part of the fightback against the GP access plan.
In September, a man was charged with assault after attacking four staff members at a GP practice in Manchester, leaving one GP with a skull fracture.
And a Pulse survey revealed that nearly three quarters of GPs are experiencing increased levels of patient abuse compared with before the pandemic.