The union Unite is backing GPs who are calling for an expansion in salaried GPs at the upcoming special LMC conference, a move they argue would make it easier for the profession to ‘take on the Government’.
Unite said in a statement that GPs in the union ‘will be supporting the motion that asks the GPC of the BMA to investigate expanding the salaried GPs sector as the best way of stopping health secretary Jeremy Hunt imposing detrimental contractual changes on the GP profession’.
It also said it is ‘reluctantly’ backing the calls for mass resignation that several LMCs have put to conference.
Dr Jackie Applebee, Unite’s representative on the GPC, said GPs were ‘hamstrung as “independent contractors”’ and that ‘by being a salaried employee under an NHS contract – as the junior doctors have shown – you can take on a Government acting against the interests of patient safety’.
Dr Applebee added that signing undated resignation letters ‘is the only way open to conference to show the strength of feeling amongst GPs and to express its exasperation with a Government reducing the budget for general practice, rather than facing the message that the NHS needs a funding boost to tackle the list of issues facing GPs and their patients’.
The Unite statement also said evidence shows the public would support an increase in income tax ‘and/or’ national insurance, if they were convinced the money would be ring-fenced for the NHS.
Dr Ron Singer, retired GP and Doctors in Unite chair, said the NHS would need a 25% increase in funding to bring it up to the highest GP-to-patient ratios at the best healthcare systems in Europe, but that ’at present, many are working 11-hour days seeing up to 50 patients daily’.
He added that ’mass resignations are on the cards if the Government does not heed the strong messages coming from Saturday’s conference’.