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BMA: Full GP closure would be ‘challenging’ but is ‘on the cards’

BMA: Full GP closure would be ‘challenging’ but is ‘on the cards’

Fully closing GP practices for a day ‘would be challenging’ but is ‘on the cards’ as part of industrial action plans, the BMA has said.

The union is considering next steps after NHS England’s contract imposition earlier this month and the GP Committee for England warned that GPs stand ‘ready to act’ if ‘positive changes’ are not seen.

During a webinar today, GPCE officials including acting chair Dr Kieran Sharrock and deputy chair Dr David Wrigley updated GPs on the potential options for industrial action, which include:

  • Full practice closures for a day
  • Closure of patient lists
  • Establishing lengthy GP consultation patient waiting lists (akin to secondary care)
  • Severe capping of daily consultations per GPs to safe / sustainable levels
  • Submitting undated contract resignations

The BMA said that GPs will have to ‘work together in unison to secure positive change and safer care’ and that balloting and subsequent action are ‘tools to bring about collective success.’

They stressed timing was important for ‘maximum impact’ and that action was being considered in relation to both this year’s and next year’s contracts.

The GPC is expected to meet ‘around Easter’, as revealed by Pulse, for an emergency meeting to make decisions about industrial or collective action.

Dr Wrigley said that ‘there is risk involved’ in taking any action that breaches contract but that ‘general practice could disappear from many parts of the country if we don’t take action.’

He said: ‘General practice used to be the jewel in the crown of the NHS – the key is that if we act together we have so much ability to make change.

‘We know what contract we need and it might be that we need to take some action to get there. I want to say that there are risks involved – anything that could breach the contract can put colleagues at risk and it’s important that we prepare the ground.’

He said that the BMA wants to ‘stop the haemorrhage of GPs’ and that whatever form industrial action will take it will have ‘the maximum impact for the maximum gain.’

He added: ‘Many people say that if we take action, it needs to be powerful but that it could impact patients. But if we don’t take action now, general practice could disappear from many parts of the country.’

He said that GPs ‘needs the Government to give us the resources we need’ to care for patients and that the GPCE will meet next month to decide on the most suitable options for industrial action.

Dr Sharrock said that collectively working together following any ballot will be very powerful and that significant action gets noticed by politicians, the media and patients.

He said that taking action ‘will take courage’ and ‘won’t be easy’ but that the profession and patients deserve better.

He said: ‘We need to be our patients’ advocates – we don’t want to take strike action, we want to be caring for patients.

‘There’s always going to be risks to it and we will provide guidance, the more we act together the more the risks will be mitigated.

‘People joining the BMA is a good sign that doctors want to take action.’

The BMA also confirmed that it set up an industrial action ‘working group’, as previously revealed by Pulse, which regularly meets and has been looking at:

  • Groundwork needed to get the profession ‘in the right mindset’
  • Desired outcomes from successful action by the profession
  • Actions to put to the profession in a future ballot
  • Organising alongside members, practices and LMCs
  • Tactically opportune moments to ballot / survey / poll
  • What success will look like following any action taken

Earlier this week, the union gave the Government a list of changes that must be made – ‘at a minimum’ – to the imposed 2023/24 contract to avoid a threat of industrial action by GPs.



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

Nick Mann 22 March, 2023 6:48 pm

“Full practice closures for a day
Closure of patient lists
Establishing lengthy GP consultation patient waiting lists (akin to secondary care)
Severe capping of daily consultations per GPs to safe / sustainable levels
Submitting undated contract resignations”

Only the last of these options would not invoke immediate tabloid opprobrium and brickbats from the public who are further unable to access care.
Mass undated resignations is meaningful as a collective industrial action and would be less prone to accusations of self interest in a crisis.

David jenkins 23 March, 2023 12:39 am

fairly straightforward it seems to me:

all locums, salaried doctors, anp’s etc etc etc etc should decline work on a set day.

this would put the system under so much pressure that patients would HAVE to attend a/e

“i’m sorry, but there really isn’t anyone who can see you today”

although i’m in wales, count me in – for the avoidance of any queries i am 73, and still doing two days a week as a locum.

dai jenkins 2317878

Neil Tallant 23 March, 2023 9:19 am

Agree entirely with Nick Mann. Our strength as General Practitioners lies solely in our relationships with our patients, not as a body within the NHS. Lose that relationship and lose the vital credibility that we still have. Clearly NHSE / Government have little concerns for GP as it currently stands; don’t give them any more ammunition to promulgate their agenda.

Turn out The Lights 23 March, 2023 9:27 am

Short or long term GP full closure is on the cards what ever we do.Do we fight or continue as we are.either way full closure is the outcome.

Cameron Wilson 23 March, 2023 5:57 pm

Has the BMA ever answered the question “Why No Plan B.”
Closing for one day will do nothing, just the usual increased grief the next day!
Suspect that this is far more than funding the status quo, the quantity v quality is at the heart of the matter. The Govt, patients, NHSE want both backed up by the GMC and CQC.
They won’t change their agenda, the gap between the quantity and quality funding comes out of the staff’s health and wellbeing!
Get real BMA!

Stefan Kuetter 23 March, 2023 10:46 pm

Inadvertently, you will have to inconvenience patients if you want to achieve anything. It’s them that will put pressure on their MPs to sort something out.
I don’t understand why cardi GPs are so afraid of putting strain on their doctor-patient relationship. It is the public that through the government they chose piled the pressure on GPs in the first instance.
And why the worry about the tabloids? They write what they like anyway…

Pradeep Bahalkar 24 March, 2023 7:06 am

Looking at comments on social media and tabloid comments, do GP really think that pts are on their side and care for GP well being. Most of them feel we are lazy , arrogant and work only 2/4 days a week.
If anybody thinks that patients will support us in our fight against DH/NHSE then they are highly mistaken. All they care about is their wants are met. They all think that we don’t deserve the current money we earn forget about more money. They obviously compare us with unskilled ,uneducated population who make 20,000-25,000 per year. We shouldn’t be expecting any support from general public

Mark Cathcart 24 March, 2023 11:26 am

Bma Ni still have our undated resignations which we submitted to them in 2016: we did as we were encouraged to do and yet bma ni have been sitting on these undated resignations for 7 years now whilst primary care in my patch collapses, it is an idle gesture with no meaningful impact imho

q b 24 March, 2023 12:31 pm

Who cares what the public think.? It’s paying attention to this that has led us here.
They dont know what’s good for them in terms of the service.

I’m glad BMA are making the right noises…I might even rejoin.

Jamal Hussain 25 March, 2023 4:06 am

I agree with the opinions of the GPs above who aren’t wearing sandals, toting cardigans and hugging trees. And we wonder why some tube drivers are earning more than some doctors. It’s very clear from the comments of many within our midst. With the nurses a proportion voted to go on strike and went on strike. Others disagreed with this course of action. The government say they can’t afford to pay all the nurses their 17% pay rise. I say they don’t have to. Just pay the ones who voted to go on strike and who actually went on strike. The others are clearly happy enough. One can take a similar approach to the GPs.

Jamal Hussain 25 March, 2023 4:24 am

Middle class English GPs still have a middle class condition. They think the answer to a problem is to write a stern letter to someone. In this case sending meaningless undated resignations.
This isn’t the 1920s any more. They may wish to note those in charge aren’t middle class anymore. The PM is a billionaire. That’s upper class albeit not aristocracy.
The letter writing didn’t work in 2016 as someone sensibly stated above and anyone who thinks it will work now is delusional. You can tell from my name that although I’m British I don’t identify as a middle class English person with 1920s attitudes like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. I shalln’t be writing letters.

Dr No 25 March, 2023 11:32 am

Striking/closing is an idiotic idea. Much more effective is to disengage from any activity that is not direct patient care. Our patients will love the extra availability, and we might even find time to enjoy some clinical medicine instead of endless managerialist bullshit. Pisses the government off and stays onside with our patients.