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LMCs consider radical motions calling for industrial action at GP crisis summit

Exclusive LMCs are considering motions calling on GPs to take industrial action unless the Government implements emergency measures to ensure general practice remains sustainable, Pulse has learned.

The motions include banning home visits and signing undated resignation letters as tools to make ministers stand up and take notice.

GPC leaders have told Pulse of a number of motions they have submitted to their LMC for inclusion in the agenda at the special LMCs crisis summit in London next month.

Pulse revealed earlier this month that the special conference was called by GPC at its most recent meeting, in response to the ‘crisis in general practice’ that has been expressed by LMCs.

It is taking place on 30 January, and it is the first special conference to take place since 2003, which helped pave the way for the current contract.

It comes amid contract negotiations that have seen GPC calling for an end to the ‘annual tinkering’ of the contract, and the Government looking to implement a seven-day access DES.

GPC member and former negotiator Dr Peter Holden told Pulse that he was intending to submit motions through Derbyshire LMC, and said that the conference ‘has to have a debate on industrial action, and undated resignations – this is real gloves-off stuff’.

He said: ’We will be putting a motion in to say industrial action is still on the cards – but there has to be a reason to use it.

’It is also likely we’ll be putting a motion on unsigned mass resignation letters.

’This is the nuclear option. We have to give the Government a time-limited opportunity. When it refuses to engage in sensible discussions and refuses to implement emergency measures that are needed, then we can consider industrial action.’

Dr Holden said that the Government had ‘studiously avoided’ meaningful negotiations with the GPC for the past seven years.

He called on GPs to support actions taken by the GPC and LMCs, adding: ‘The profession has to realise GPC and LMCs cannot do it all by themselves. We need the profession to stand with us, unlike what happened in 2013 with the industrial action over pensions.’

Dr Helena McKeown, vice-chair of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire LMC, said she had submitted a motion that ‘contentiously suggested we can’t any longer afford the inefficiency of home visits’.

Pulse recently revealed that almost half of GPs are in favour of mass resignation in protest at the state of general practice.

But Dr Brian Balmer, a member of the GPC executive team and chief executive of North and South Essex LMCs, told Pulse that they would not be submitting motions on industrial action because their aim is ‘to ignore NHS England and start to solve the problem for ourselves’.

Instead, GPs in Essex will call on the GPC to lead a nationwide campaign to ensure that the workload of practices is ‘limited to a level which is considered to be safe for both patients and practitioners’, with CCGs commissioning any extra services.

Dr Tom Black, chair of the Northern Ireland GPC, told Pulse to expect ‘big themes’ to come out of the special LMCs conference. He said: ‘I think there’s a real need for a special conference and needless to say I read Pulse’s survey results with interest. I wouldn’t be surprised if the motions were about big themes – there’s no point in having a special conference about routine matters.’