Exclusive A group of LMCs has asked the BMA to restore dialogue with NHS England, Pulse has learned.
In a letter seen by Pulse, nine LMC leaders from across England say while they appreciate the reason for previous action, the ‘current impasse’ is hampering LMCs’ abilities to do their jobs.
The signatories from Northumberland, Lancashire & Cumbria, Humberside, Kent, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire LMCs called for a constructive relationship with NHS England in the interests of GPs and patients.
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 the LMC leaders’ letter said: ‘As a group of LMC lead officers and medical directors, we are writing to encourage GPC to restore dialogue with NHSEI, and to express our support for any actions that may lead to such change.
‘Whilst we appreciate the reasons for the previous action, we believe the current impasse compromises significantly LMCs’ ability to carry out their core functions.’
It continued: ‘We strongly believe that a return to a constructive relationship with NHSEI is essential in the interests of both general practice and, more importantly, the patients we serve.’
William Greenwood, chief executive of Cheshire LMC, told Pulse that the LMCs ‘support the GPC continuing to engage with NHSE at a national level’.
But he added: ‘We also understand their frustration as well at some of the recent actions and frankly abysmal communication (or pointed lack of it) with the general public around the “double” work GPs had been doing in the pandemic in keeping services running and doing Covid vaccinations.’
Michael Wright, chief executive of Nottinghamshire LMC confirmed there had been some communication but did not want to comment further.
NHS England has this month invited the BMA to return to formal meetings in response to which the BMA said it welcomed NHS England’s ‘change in tone’ and said it was keen to ‘build on’ the progress so the organisations can ‘both reform [their] working relationship’.
It comes as a ‘constructive’ meeting between the BMA and NHS England’s new chief executive Amanda Pritchard failed to bring GPs back to negotiations.
The past couple of weeks have seen a surge of newspaper articles criticising GPs on patient access including a column from Allison Pearson in the Telegraph in which she said she is ‘not surprised’ GPs have received a torrent of abuse.
The BMA recently launched a public campaign to rally support for GP practices, including increased Government investment.
The ‘Support Your Surgery’ campaign comes amid rising abuse against GP practices and aims to explain the pressures facing general practice and why it has been difficult for patients to see their GP face to face over the past 18 months.
A BMA spokesperson said they could not comment on any private correspondence but the issue of discussions with NHS England would be discussed at an upcoming GPC meeting.
‘We continue to consider how GPC might work with NHS England going forward, and while the agenda of [the meeting] is confidential it will be an opportunity for the committee to discuss next steps.
‘We will update the wider membership with any developments in due course.’
BMA and RCGP last week wrote to the Telegraph in response to Ms Pearson’s ‘completely unfair’ column in which she said she is ‘not surprised’ GPs have received a torrent of abuse.
On Friday, a piece by Times columnist James Kirkup entitled ‘Generous GP pay isn’t working for patients’ blamed GP earnings for part-time working and early retirement.