Exclusive The BMA’s vote around restarting formal meetings with NHS England has sparked resignations from policy positions and regional seats on its GP Committee.
Pulse understands that three members of the GPC have stepped down from their positions, with members saying they had ‘no confidence’ in the GPC’s leadership.
The BMA said it was ‘sorry’ to see the members leave, but said due process had been followed in the vote itself.
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 last week, the BMA announced that it would resume meetings following an emergency vote, with a motion passed by 59% of BMA England’s GPC. Almost 40% (39%) voted against and 2% abstained from the vote.
Following the vote, Cambridgeshire LMC chief executive and chair of the UK LMCs’ conference Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer and Surrey and Sussex LMCs chief executive Dr Julius Parker have resigned from their policy roles, while East Sussex LMC chair Dr Russell Brown has resigned from the Committee.
In an email sent to GPC England on Friday, seen by Pulse, Dr Parker and Dr Bramall-Stainer said: ‘Katie and I wanted to inform GPCE that we are resigning as policy and deputy policy lead for contracts and regulations with immediate effect.
‘We have no confidence in the GPCE current leadership and no longer wish to be associated with it via these roles.’
Dr Bramall-Stainer told Pulse: ‘I am delighted to be able to focus on serving as the incumbent chair of the UK Conference of LMCs.’
A social media post by GP Survival added that there were ‘significant anomalies’ in the motion and voting process.
GP Survival chair Dr John Hughes said: ‘[I am] very concerned to hear that there have been resignations from policy lead positions and from seats at GPC following a decision to resume full negotiations with NHSE despite the fact that NHSE has still failed to apologise or explain its denigrating press briefings earlier in the year, which was a stipulated requirement of the original motion mandating GPC withdrawal from negotiations.
‘There appear to have been significant anomalies in both the wording of the motion to recommence contact and in the debating and voting process according to what I am hearing, and in the calling of an emergency GPC meeting in holiday time at short notice.’
He added: ‘Given the absolute refusal of NHSE to issue any sort of apology for the negative briefing, or in recent days to correct the lies and misinformation in multiple press articles attacking GPs, I am astonished that GPC exec feel that now is the time to establish full contacts and to bludgeon through a motion rescinding the democratic decision of representatives in May.’
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry to see members of the committee stepping down from their positions and are grateful for their dedication and contributions to the work of GPC. We are confident that standards were upheld and that due process was followed during last week’s meeting and the subsequent voting process.’
Announcing the return to formal talks last week, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that 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 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.’
However, last week’s motion was worded unconditionally, saying that ‘GPC England agrees to resume formal meetings with NHS England and NHS Improvement.’
The original motion, revealed exclusively by Pulse in May, said that no further meetings should take place until a GPC vote confirms that ‘sufficient steps have been taken to restore the committee’s confidence’ in NHS England’s leaders.
It said: ‘[The GPC] has no confidence in the executive directors of NHS England.
‘[It] calls for GPC England’s executive to immediately cease all formal meetings with NHS England until a motion is brought back to GPC England by the executive, requesting a vote on their recommendation that sufficient steps have been taken to restore the committee’s confidence in the executive directors of NHS England, to justify the resumption of such meetings.’
It comes as nine LMC leaders from across England last week asked the BMA to restore dialogue with NHS England in a letter saying that while they appreciate the reason for previous action, the ‘impasse’ was hampering LMCs’ abilities to do their jobs.