The BMA has agreed to restart formal meetings with NHS England, following an emergency meeting and vote yesterday.
The motion was passed by 59% of the members of the BMA’s England GP Committee, while 39% voted against and 2% abstained.
The BMA’s GP Committee voted to pause all meetings with NHS England in May until the disagreement around face-to-face appointments in practices had been resolved after an emergency motion of ‘no confidence’ in NHS England’s executive directors passed overwhelmingly.
But now the doctor’s union has said the decision is key for the BMA to represent GPs ‘whilst pushing for changes that secure the best for the profession, as practices continue to adapt to agile pandemic working requirements and in the face of increased attacks in some segments of the media’.
It comes as nine LMC leaders from across England asked the BMA to restore dialogue with NHS England in a letter yesterday.
The letter said that while they appreciate the reason for previous action, the ‘current impasse’ is hampering LMCs’ abilities to do their jobs.
Since the end of May, GP representatives have held no formal meetings with NHS England.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey made it clear the resumed talks do not mean ‘business as usual’, as there is still ‘much work to be done’ to show that ‘both the Government and [NHS England] value family doctors and their teams’.
He said: ‘However, if we are not at the table, it is significantly harder for us to advocate for grassroots GPs and push for changes that secure the best for our members at a time that is so crucial for the profession – a point that was clearly articulated during discussions with the committee this week.
‘Effective leadership is vital right now and we are committed to doing everything in our power to represent practices that continue to work under the most pressured circumstances that many have ever experienced.’
Dr Vautrey added: ‘We must see far more evidence of action by the new NHSEI leadership to address the serious situation we now see in practices and other services that GPs work in, and we will do all that we can to hold them and Government to account.’
The BMA recently launched a public campaign to rally support for GP practices, including increased Government investment.
The ‘Support Your Surgery’ campaign comes amid rising abuse against GP practices and aims to explain the pressures facing general practice and why it has been difficult for patients to see their GP face to face over the past 18 months.