The BMA’s GP Committee will ‘consult widely’ with GPs before making a ‘final’ decision on industrial action, it has said.
The GPC also intends to ‘reset and refresh relationships with policy makers’ before a decision is made.
But it remains unclear whether this means the BMA will launch another indicative ballot to gather GP views.
It comes as GP leaders have expressed fears that a formal GP ballot on industrial action has been ‘kicked into the long grass’, as a GPC report last week revealed that no progress had been made.
A BMA spokesperson told Pulse: ‘The new chair and executive team for GPCE have made clear that they intend to consult widely with the profession and to reset and refresh relationships with policymakers before making final decisions on how to proceed in relation to industrial action.
‘This is a process which cannot happen overnight.’
Pulse has asked for clarification on whether this means the BMA will ballot GPs again and if so, whether this will be another indicative ballot or a formal ballot.
The BMA did not answer the question but reiterated that GPCE chair Dr Farah Jameel ‘has been clear from the outset that she intends to reset GPCE’s relationship between the profession and policy makers’ and that she ‘will continue to prioritise consulting with the profession to understand what their needs and wants are’.
A spokesperson added: ‘As such, all options remain on the table in the pursuit of the best outcome for our members and the GP profession, but this cannot be at the cost of compromising patient safety through a pandemic.
‘As the current round of in-year negotiations on the five-year contract agreement draws to a close, GPCE will be in a position to take a decision on whether to pursue industrial action or not.’
Pulse revealed last month that the BMA had not yet decided whether it would launch a formal ballot of GPs on industrial action.
The BMA had previously said it was preparing for a formal ballot to take place after its indicative ballot, which ‘for legal reasons’ could not take place sooner than six weeks after the emergency GPC meeting where balloting the profession was decided.
The meeting took place 14 weeks ago – on 21 October – but the BMA has since told Pulse that it does not recognise the timescales it previously set out.
The BMA’s indicative ballot in November 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
The GPC said at the time it would analyse the results ‘in detail before deciding on the next steps’, which it would ‘communicate to all members in due course’.
In an open letter to GPC chair Dr Farah Jameel, Dr Clare Sieber said there had been no ‘satisfactory update’ on progress, the ‘silence is deafening’ and there is a ‘lack of trust’ between the GPC and the profession.