Exclusive The BMA has declined to fund an additional GPC meeting to discuss the next steps following the contract imposition by NHS England.
Earlier this week NHS England announced the new GP contract for the upcoming year, which the GPC has said is ‘the result of failure to listen to what GPs actually need.’
The contract focuses on increasing patient access, including a stipulation that GP practices offer patients an ‘assessment of need’ on first contact meaning they will ‘no longer be able to request that patients contact the practice at a later time.’
Other changes, revealed in NHS England’s letter to GPs, include the requirement for practices to offer automatic access to future patient records through the NHS app, and focussing the majority of the investment and impact fund (IIF) on patient experience of contacting their practice.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting chair of GPC England, said that some of the contract requirements ‘only set practices up to fail and take GPs away from direct patient care’ and that the GPC would have ‘serious discussions’ with its membership about next steps, which could include industrial action.
But Pulse understands that the BMA has since refused to fund an additional meeting of the committee to discuss further options.
A spokesperson from the BMA told Pulse: ‘GPC England is in the process of planning an extraordinary meeting to discuss the imposed contract. How meetings are funded is an internal matter.’
Pulse reported last month that the BMA had set up a working group preparing for GP industrial action, understood to be floating options going further than before.
Last week, health secretary Steve Barclay failed to avert junior doctor strike action, telling the BMA he had ‘no authority’ or ‘green light’ to renegotiate pay.
Leaders of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, who said they are ‘frustrated’ and ‘hugely disappointed’ by his admission, have now written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to demand answers.
The letter, signed by JDC co-chairs Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said: ‘The profession and the public must know that you are wilfully allowing these strikes to happen.
‘Talks are meaningless unless there is a genuine will to find a solution, which it appears this government does not have.
‘With days left before strike action, we are writing to urge you to come to the negotiating table yourself to meaningfully agree a mechanism for achieving pay restoration.’
Junior doctors are walking out on Monday (13 March) for 72-hours, after more than 36,000 doctors voted in favour of strikes last month.
The BMA also announced that more than 17,000 NHS consultants in England have voted for strike action in a consultative ballot, and GP practice inspectors working for the CQC have also voted in favour of strike action over pay.
On Saturday (11 March) thousands of NHS staff will join a march in London, beginning opposite Warren Street tube station on Tottenham Court Road at 12pm, and finishing in Whitehall.
Speakers will include BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield and NEU general secretary Kevin Courtney, as well as NHS frontline workers and MPs.