Exclusive The BMA is still waiting for a response that will ‘restore confidence’ in NHS England following the fallout around GP face-to-face appointments, Pulse has learned.
Last month, the BMA’s GP Committee voted to pause all formal meetings with NHS England until the disagreement around face-to-face appointments – sparked by a letter from NHS England – is resolved.
At the time, GPC England said it has ‘no confidence’ in NHS England’s executive directors and called for its own executive to ‘immediately cease all formal meetings with NHS England’ until satisfied that ‘sufficient steps have been taken to restore the Committee’s confidence’.
It also called for ‘both senior explanation and public action’ from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in light of NHS England’s ‘unacceptable’ letter.
However, Pulse has learned that the BMA has had no formal response from NHS England so far, beyond an initial acknowledgement.
Cambridgeshire LMC chief executive and GPC contract and regulations deputy policy lead Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, who proposed the emergency GPC motion, said that the GPC will wait ‘as long as it takes’ for a resolution.
She told Pulse: ‘GPC members look forward to hearing what sufficient steps have been taken to restore the confidence in NHSE’s board from the GPCE Executive team, together with senior explanation and public action from NHSE/DHSC following the publication of the damaging BO497 letter on 13th May.’
She added: ‘On 20 May, GPC England voted unequivocally to redraw, refresh and reset the rules of engagement with NHSE. We are now three weeks from that unprecedented consensus and unity. GPs deserve such strong leadership at a time of unjustified, overwhelming critical challenge.
‘We are happy to wait as long as it takes. GPCE does not meet in June, but that does not mean a virtual meeting could not be called.’
A BMA spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that NHS England acknowledged the passing of the motion and that forthcoming formal meetings would be cancelled.
They said: ‘While the chair of GPC England, the chair of the sessional GPs committee and the chair of BMA council met with the Secretary of State shortly after the vote, NHS England is yet to provide a formal response to the motion and formal meetings between the GPC executive team and NHS England are still on pause.
‘We continue to explore how GPC England might engage with NHS England going forward and the BMA will update members directly in due course.’
NHS England declined to comment.
Dr Bramall-Stainer added that the GPC is ‘keen to hear how discussions have been progressing with the DHSC’.
The BMA met with the health secretary to discuss the current GP crisis last month, after the motion stipulated it should demand an ‘urgent meeting’.
It said that Matt Hancock ‘recognised’ the ‘extreme pressures’ GPs are facing, but called for his words to ‘turn into action’.
It followed calls among grassroots GPs for the resignation of NHS England’s medical director for primary care amid the furore created by its letter – with a petition to that effect racking up over a thousand signatures.
The DHSC was also approached for comment.
Motion in full
GPC England is outraged by NHS England and NHS Improvement’s lack of understanding of the pressures facing General Practice and:
- i) Calls for formal BMA action by escalating concerns about NHS England’s apparent lack of knowledge of the applicable contracts and regulations relating to the delivery of General Practice services
- ii) Seeks both senior explanation and public action from the Department of Health and Social Care in view of the unacceptable decision to publish letter BO497 on 13 May 2021
- iii) Has no confidence in the Executive Directors of NHS England
- iv) Calls upon the Chair of BMA UK Council to support the Chair of GPC England in demanding an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, to discuss the spiralling crisis in General Practice
- v) 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.