Exclusive GP practices were told by Health Education England bosses that they ‘need to withhold pay’ for trainees who took part in Tuesday’s strike – a move criticised by the GPC.
Practices in the south of England received a letter from Health Education Wessex instructing them not to pay their trainees, but the GPC said it is up to each practice whether they opt to dock pay or not.
Health Education England will not reimburse practices if they do decide to pay junior doctors for the days of action – two more of which are planned for the coming month – but the GPC said there is nothing stopping practices from paying them anyhow.
The letter, sent out to GP practices in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Thames Valley, Dorset and Wiltshire, said: ‘If your GP trainee takes part in any of the junior doctors’ strike action, you will need to withhold payment of their salary for the day that they are on strike.’
But GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey explained that HEE would not expect to fund GP trainees on strike, but that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of GPs supportive of strikes are at liberty to pay their trainees out of their own pockets, should they wish to do so.
He said: ’The expectation when anyone takes industrial action is that they will not receive their pay on the days that they take action. HEE, who fund GP trainees, would expect pay to be deducted by their employer.
‘What practices do outside of that employment arrangement is up to them but we do know that the overwhelming majority of GPs are very supportive of their junior colleagues.’
A local GP who wished to remain anonymous said their practice was still deciding whether to pay their one trainee who took action on Tuesday.
They said: ’We are deciding what to do at the practice as a partnership, but personally I’d like to show him my support.
‘It is our choice as his employer whether we show our support for the juniors and that would be my preference. However, I work in a partnership and will probably act corporately when I know what the majority view is.’
GP support for junior doctor strikes
Junior Doctor Strike 2016
A Pulse survey showed that more than eight in ten GPs support junior doctors in taking industrical action over the BMA’s contract stand-off with the Government.
Although the Government and the BMA have returned to negotiations led by Acas, junior doctors are due to strike on two more dates over the coming month.
On Tuesday 26 January, junior doctors will deliver emergency care only, from 8am Tuesday 26 to 8am Thursday 28 January.
The BMA has pre-warned there will be a total withdrawal of labour from junior doctors on Wednesday 10 February from 8am to 5pm.