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‘Bullied’ GPs ‘need a new contract’, says GPC chair

‘Bullied’ GPs ‘need a new contract’, says GPC chair

GPs need a ‘new contract’ after years of being ‘bullied and gaslit’, the chair of the BMA’s GP Committee for England has said.

In a rousing speech closing the Pulse LIVE conference in London today, Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said GPs need ‘ringfenced funds for GP practice roles.

Hinting at what the BMA is looking for, she said GPs need to be looking ‘backwards’ towards the Red Book contract and even the 1965 General Practice Charter.

Her speech came as GPC England’s member referendum on the GP contract closed today but she had yet to receive the headline results.

These will become available tomorrow, however Dr Bramall-Stainer revealed that the referendum ‘reached 27,000 GPs’.

Since February, the union has also welcomed around 2,400 new GPs, meaning 70% of qualified GPs are now BMA members, she said.

‘I see this as the very beginning of what will be quite a long, exhausting journey ahead us. It has taken many years to break general practice, it will take many years to begin to repair it,’ Dr Bramall-Stainer told attendees.

The vote was a ‘temperature check’ rather than a formal ballot, but she said that if it had been a ballot for industrial action, she hopes it ‘would easily pass the thresholds required’.

Earlier this month, the BMA set out an ‘approximate timeline’ for GP industrial action with ‘collective action’ to start in late November or early December.

Following this, Dr Bramall-Stainer said any action is unlikely to involve practices ‘shutting their doors’ to patients, with the GPCE considering options that would affect GP interface with other NHS services.

Today, she highlighted that GPs have traditionally been more ‘conservative’ than other medical colleagues, but that they have been ‘driven’ to more dramatic action.

She said: ‘We tend to be slightly more risk averse, perhaps because we carry much greater risk. And we tend to approach things with a slightly more cynical viewpoint, and we’re very much independent and we don’t get told what to do.

‘And I think actually, it says quite a lot for this Government, and what’s happened to us as a profession over the past 14-plus years that we are now driven to, I think, considering actions that we would never historically have countenanced because primarily, we see the damage it’s doing to our patients.’

Since the introduction of the PCN DES in 2019, GP patient satisfaction has ‘halved’, Dr Bramall-Stainer stated.

She told attendees what the GPCE would like to see from the next Government, highlighting that general practice should be a first priority.

‘It’s meeting us face to face, head to head, arm in arm to develop and to design a general practice which will bring us professional joy, save us billions as an economy, provide our patients with the care that we want to provide them and yes, which actually will ultimately save the NHS. We need a new contract.’

She continued: ‘We actually need to look backwards to the Red Book contract which came before GMS which was rooted in the 1965 Family Doctor Charter from the last time we took industrial action. The Red Book had a very clear, transactional, ringfenced funding for roles.’

Last month, primary care minister Andrea Leadsom suggested ringfencing for GP staff could be up for discussion in future GP contracts but the Government declined the BMA’s ‘red line’ demand for GPs to become included in the ARRS.

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer also told attendees she is meeting with the minister this evening, but would not reveal the referendum results before the profession itself is informed.

At the close of her keynote speech, she said that when she qualified as a GP, general practice was considered the ‘jewel in the crown of the NHS’.

‘Since then, I kind of feel I’ve watched us be demeaned, diminished, diluted, bullied and gaslit for long enough and my hope is that this is going to benchmark the start of the fight back.’



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

Not on your Nelly 27 March, 2024 6:05 pm

If there is no risk of proper industrial action and causing severe inconvenience, this whole thing is doomed. It is going the way of the last strike (lol) regarding the pensions. The whimper that it was. The BMA lost a lot of members after that. unless closing doors or undated resignation letters are on the table, this is going to be a similar damp squib. I hope to be proven wrong. For the profession as whole.

John Graham Munro 27 March, 2024 8:00 pm

There will be no strike an no so-called ”industrial action”——-moreover, I shall come back to remind you all what I’ve just said

Iain Chalmers 27 March, 2024 8:21 pm

JGM; I thought you had already said you had gone??

That said you can threat/posture all you want but calling your bluff will come back & haunt you.

David Marshall 27 March, 2024 10:18 pm

Get the mandate, and for heaven’s sake act ASAP not the Autumn. Why wait? Hit ‘em hard, and hit ‘em early. Pathetic to wait till Autumn. Get a damn grip BMA.

john mackay 27 March, 2024 11:44 pm

The only action that will make the government negotiate is to limit the number of patient contacts each day, this is an issue of patient safety, tired and exhausted doctors are not safe. Everyone knows how hard it is to get appointments now, it’s the single biggest complaint, and we need to seize the high ground by taking action directly to stop the disinvestment in primary care and reverse the decline. We have now reached the point where there is no more capacity in the system. It’s not within our ability to be able to continue to absorb work when there actually are other NHS organisations that are able to deal with urgent care in the short-term and it’s up the government and NHSE to ensure they can, as we are no longer able to. These include NHS 111, the ambulance service, community pharmacy and A&E, and the extra patients will have to be seen by them.

There is no point whatsoever in waiting to take action, the new contract starts on Monday of next week and the GPC should have already drawn up plans for this, they’ve know this was coming for at least the last five years.

Nick Mann 27 March, 2024 11:52 pm

I agree with Dr Bramall-Stainer. Excellent leadership that we can believe in.