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GPC calls off plan to ballot members on mass resignation

The GPC has announced that it will not ballot members on potentially submitting undated resignations or industrial action after claiming that it has won concessions on workload from NHS England.

It announced today that NHS England has agreed to take on board a number of suggestions from the GPC’sUrgent Prescription for General Practice’, including ensuring GPs work within safe limits and longer appointments.

Instead of a ballot, it will be ’surveying members in September asking grassroots GPs for their views on future negotiations with the Government’.

But GPC members have said that NHS England has not delivered against what was demanded by the conference.

A motion at the LMCs Conference in May this year gave NHS England three months to ’accept the Urgent Prescription within three months of this conference’, or face a ballot on mass resignation.

But, with the three month deadline expiring this weekend, the GPC said it had obtained guarantees from NHS England, which it ‘welcomed’.

The letter from NHS England director of commissioning Rosamund Roughton, dated 16 August, says: ’NHS England accepts the BMA’s Urgent Prescription as a good basis for further discussion and work on supporting general practice pressures, also noting that some of the proposals need greater detail. We have continued to discuss the areas that are included in the Urgent Prescription but not in the General Practice Forward View.’

The BMA claims that several of the demands listed in the Urgent Prescription will form the ‘basis of negotiation’, including:

  • Ensuring that GPs work within safe limits each day.
  • Enabling GPs to have longer appointments to meet the needs of patients, and in particular those with complex and multiple problems.
  • Ending inappropriate workload demands on GPs that could be done by other parts of the NHS.
  • Empowering patients to better manage their own health when appropriate.
  • Ending time consuming bureaucracy, such as chasing up hospital actions or re-referring patients, time that could instead be spent providing more appointments to patients.
  • Provide GP practices with more frontline staff and facilities to meet record increase in the public’s demand for GP services, especially from an ageing population.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair, said: ‘In response to the calls from the BMA, NHSE has accepted taking forward our proposals to alleviate the unsustainable pressures on practices. Crucially, NHS England has recognised that GPs need to work within manageable workload limits to ensure safe and quality patient care.

‘The BMA will now be meeting NHS England to develop these proposals further, as well as putting pressure on NHSE to deliver on promises made in its General Practice Forward View plans, so that urgent support is delivered to frontline GP services.’

He added that the GPC ‘will also be proceeding with a survey of the profession in September, to ensure that the profession’s priorities and views are properly taken on board when we continue our negotiations in the future’.

But Dr Dean Eggitt, medical secretary of Doncaster LMC, said that – despite not being supportive of mass resignation himself – NHS England has not put forward a rescue package, which is what the LMCs Conference demanded.

He said: ‘The conference said if you don’t have a solution, a rescue package agreed between NHS England and the Department of Health, we now need to ballot the profession.

’We haven’t got that, we’ve got an agreement that the Urgent Prescription is along the right sort of lines, and the GP Forward View is working towards delivering something, but that’s not what conference mandated is it?

’Conference mandated we either have a rescue package in place, or we go out to ballot the profession.’

Ms Roughton also said that will be enforcing the message that LMCs need to be engaged in local Sustainability and Transformatiion Plans (STP) planning processes, after Pulse revealed that local GPs were being ‘excluded’ from discussions around the plans, will will reshape the local health economies.