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BMA refuses to rule out ballot on strike over GP contract deal

The BMA has refused to rule out a ballot on taking industrial action over the Government’s stance over the GP contract.

GPC negotiators have said that they expect the Government to back down and come back to the negotiating table with regards to the 2013/14 contract.

However, the BMA would not rule out a discussion at the GPC meeting on Thursday about possible industrial action if that did not happen.

The Government announced last month it intended to impose a deal that offered GP practices a funding uplift of 1.5% in return for raised QOF thresholds, a raft of new QOF indicators and new DESs on online access and dementia.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, north London, told Pulse the GPC was not in negotiations with the Government.

He said: ‘We are waiting for the Government to reconsider its imposition proposal. I don’t know what it will do but I think it will be folly of the Government to run into conflict with the GP profession at a time when it will need GPs onside to implement widespread change to the NHS. It is going to need GPs to engage with CCGs and to make commissioning work. We would hope that they reconsider.’

He said it was ‘too early’ to discuss industrial action, but did not go so far as to rule it out. ‘At this moment it would be pre-empting matters to talk about industrial action. We are awaiting the Government’s response and hoping that it reconsiders its proposals.’

Dr Nagpaul said he expected the DH to wait until the GPC’s meeting on Thursday before making its next move.

A BMA spokesman said a discussion on industrial action ‘was not specifically on the agenda’ for Thursday’s meeting. 

But Dr Peter Holden, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Derbyshire, said that ‘feelings are running very high indeed’.

‘The degree of uncertainty that the Government has engendered by its position I have never seen before; people don’t know what to do. The Government has scored a major own goal, it is in a real pickle and it is going to need a bloody great big olive tree,’ he added.

Bristol based GP and member of Avon LMC Dr Tom Frewin said that he would be in support of a ballot for industrial action.

‘When you have a Government that won’t negotiate, I think a ballot for industrial action is justified. This is not just a little disagreement and it shows a bad attitude to the country from the Government,’ he said.