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Early election ‘does not change’ plans for collective action, says GPCE chair

Early election ‘does not change’ plans for collective action, says GPCE chair

The announcement of an early general election to be held in July ‘does not change’ plans for GP collective action, the BMA GP committee chair for England has said.

Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a national election for 4 July, during a rain-soaked speech outside 10 Downing Street which ended months of speculation as to when the election would happen.

Following the announcement, Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said that ‘this does not change our plans for GP action’.

The BMA is currently planning for potential GP collective action to commence on 1 August, depending on the result of a ballot GP partners which will open on Monday 17 June and close on Monday 29 July.

Dr Bramall-Stainer previously told Pulse that the union want to make the ‘protection of your local GP’ the ‘doorstep conversation’ during the general election campaign.

In her post yesterday, she added: ‘It means messaging, tighter. Aims, clearer. Manifesto, sooner. Practices are making decisions to close now.’

After the Prime Minister’s speech, the BMA’s chair of council Professor Phil Banfield said that this election is a chance to ‘guarantee the future of our NHS for everyone’, and it couldn’t have come ‘at a more crucial time’.

He said: ‘Thousands upon thousands of doctors have joined colleagues across the NHS in taking unprecedented industrial action, after persistent failure to recognise and safeguard the medical workforce.

‘We cannot allow our health services to continue stumbling from crisis to crisis. All parties must make the health of the NHS their top priority. They must commit to valuing, retaining, and investing in the workforce, so we can give patients the care they need and deserve.’

Initially the BMA had set ‘an approximate timeline’ for GP action to coincide with a general election planned for the autumn.

However, last week GPCE members voted through a motion to proceed with a ‘non-statutory ballot’ in June, meaning any action taken by GP partners will ‘not involve contract breaches’.

The BMA suggested that instead GP partners could limit appointments to its own ‘safe working maximum’ of 25, or reject workload dump by stopping or reducing ‘work that they’re not formally contracted to do’.

As reported by Pulse earlier this year, the GPCE is looking at options for collective action that would affect GP interface with other NHS services as well as workload, rather than practices ‘shutting their doors’.

The committee indicated that this is a ‘first phase’ of action, and that ‘further escalation’ beyond a non-statutory ballot can be stopped if the Government agrees to make ‘contractual improvements’ in 2024/25 and restore GP funding to 2018/19 levels.

It follows a referendum by the GPCE which found that 99% of GPs did not agree with the recent contract imposition, as well as the committee officially declaring a ‘dispute’ with NHS England.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Carrick Richards 23 May, 2024 2:19 pm

I should hope the hustings does not affect collective action: A BMA campaign is now likely to be of much higher impact. Just tell the public that waiting lists have 15 million more appointments on a secret list, 40% of which are over 1 year. And that hundreds of thousands a month can’t get on any list at all. And the ‘worst ever NHS crisis’ has been an annual event for over 10 years. If BVMA does not the incomming and outgoing politicians will find an NHS scapegoat to blame!