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GPC refuses to rule out mass resignation following support package

Exclusive GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul says the ’clock is still ticking’on the possibility of GPs submitting undated resignations, as NHS England’s plans for general practice is ’weak in immediate help’.

Speaking to Pulse after Thursday’s GPC meeting had deliberated on the new General Practice Forward View, Dr Nagpaul said that the document contained important elements of support, but it was ‘not the final package’ that general practice needed

At January’s Special LMC Conference, LMC leaders passed a motion that ‘the GPC should canvass GPs on their willingness to submit undated resignations’ unless ’negotiations with Government for a rescue package for general practice’ are ‘concluded successfully within six months’.

When asked if the clock was still ticking on the deadline for undated resignation, Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Yes… We are continuing dialogue and we will decide when the six months are up.

‘We believe this has provided us with intended investment, it has given us a package of proposals, but these proposals at the moment are words on paper, and we’ve yet to get the detail behind many of those.’

He added that the forward view didn’t address all the issues raised in the GPC’s own Urgent Prescription for General Practice.

Dr Nagpaul told Pulse they needed indemnity fees to be addressed in detail, clarification on what proposed ‘practice resilience support’ entails, and said ‘we do need to make sure that we replace CQC’s regulatory regime with something fit for purpose, replace it, not just reduce its frequency’.

The RCGP has declared that it is ‘most significant announcement for general practice since the 1960s’, and has put its badge on the front of the document, but the GPC has not given its full endorsement.

Dr Nagpaul told Pulse: ‘We weren’t badged on it, because we don’t believe it’s the final product, but it has got many important elements of support for general practice.

’We will make sure we hold NHS England to account to deliver on those, but it is weak in terms of immediate help for practices and that’s something we will be lobbying for and negotiating for in coming months.’

There was a mixed reaction among grassroots GPs.

Leicestershire LMC chief executive Dr Chris Hewitt warned that the announcement was a ‘potentially very dangerous document’ and that promised funding would come with ‘strings attached’.

Dr Hewitt said: ‘I believe that [this] could accelerate the demise of general practice as we know it. General practice needs a clear vision – we need a rescue package that clearly outlines pounds per patient and per patient contact for the core work of GPs. How many of the public will realise that £2.4bn over five years was what was promised some time ago in the Chancellor’s spending review?’

Chief executive of Londonwide LMCs Dr Michelle Drage said that the package failed to deliver enough assurances to relieve the pressure on general practice.

Dr Drage said: ‘Today’s announcement falls far short of what is needed to address the challenges facing general practice in the capital and beyond. GPs are in a state of emergency [and] patients risk losing their GPs unless pressures on general practice are dramatically eased.’

Other GP leaders were more positive about the package, highlighting the change in tone and the positive changes to indemnity, workload and retainer schemes outline.

Former RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada told Pulse these combined indemnity costs would soon amount to 10% of GPs annual income, and said the profession should now ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and push for workload limits to be enshrined in a new GP charter.

Dr Gerada told Pulse: ‘I think it’s really good news. It’s one of the pivotal moments in general practice.’

Chair of the Family Doctor Association Dr Peter Swinyard told Pulse the report could mark the point where general practice began rebuilding.

Dr Swinyard told Pulse: ‘Here we actually have a genuine bit of new money coming into primary care, and general practice more importantly.

’Clearly I would like more and sooner, as all my colleagues would. Whether this enough to stop practice closures, which are happening all over the place as we speak, I don’t know. Pulse’s Save Our Surgeries campaign was good, but we need that money up front.’