Exclusive The BMA has not yet decided whether it will launch a formal ballot of GPs on industrial action, Pulse has learned.
In an email bulletin sent to GPs in October, announcing the upcoming launch of its indicative ballot, the BMA set out that it was also preparing for a formal ballot of GP members on industrial action.
It said that ‘for legal reasons’ this could not take place sooner than six weeks after the emergency GPC meeting where balloting the profession was decided.
The meeting took place eight weeks ago today, on 21 October.
But when questioned by Pulse about whether a formal ballot will still go ahead and when, a BMA spokesperson said that the BMA does not recognise the timescales from its bulletin.
They added: ‘The BMA made clear when the results were published that we would be discussing them with GPC and the wider profession before determining next steps. This remains the case.’
The October bulletin said: ‘The BMA is also preparing for a formal ballot of members on IA (industrial action), which, for legal reasons could not have happened sooner than at least six weeks after the emergency meeting last week.
‘Moving to an indicative ballot of practices before a formal ballot of members on IA also means we not only get to gather the views of practices on the proposed forms of actions much more swiftly, but it also means we can keep the pressure up nationally by using the result as further leverage in the interim.’
The BMA revealed last month that its indicative ballot showed over half of GP practices are willing to opt out of the PCN DES as part of a range of protest measures concerning the Government’s GP access fund.
- 58% of respondents said they would support withdrawal from the PCN DES at the next opt-out period
- 39% said they would be willing to disengage from the PCN DES before then
- 84% said they would welcome non-compliance with Covid exemption certificates
- 80% said they would change the way they report appointment data
Announcing the result, BMA GPC England chair Dr Farah Jameel said the response rate of 35% achieved ‘in such a short space of time speaks volumes about the strength of feeling across the profession’.
The BMA GP committee had learned of the ballot results a week before they were announced but delayed releasing them while mulling over next steps in private.
It said at the time it would analyse the results ‘in detail before deciding on the next steps, which we will communicate to all members in due course’.