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Welsh GPs vote against ‘dangerous’ call for mass resignations

Welsh LMCs have rejected the call from the recent UK Special LMC Conference to canvass GPs about mass resignation.

In an emergency motion carried at the Welsh LMCs Conference on Saturday, GPs agreed to reject the decision after LMC leaders said it amounted to ‘dangerous brinkmanship’ that could ‘weaken GPC’s hand’. 

GPC Wales leaders also warned delegates that the Special LMC Conference decision – which demanded GPC canvass members about resigning en masse, if the UK Government does not come up with a satisfactory ‘rescue package’ for general practice – would have less sympathy in Wales, where GPs ‘are in a different place’ to their English colleagues.

Putting the emergency motion to the Welsh LMCs Conference, Dr Sarah Morgan from Bro Taf LMC said: ‘I feel very strongly this is a very, very, very dangerous move which can only devalue GPC’s strength in negotiations.’

Dr Morgan said that ‘brinkmanship is a very dangerous negotiating policy, which only works if the other party does not know the strength of your hand’ and warned that GPs in her LMC were unlikely to sign undated resignation letters if called to.

She also said the call for mass resignation was ‘playground politics’ that ‘devalues our credibility’.

Speaking against the emergency motion, Dr Bhupendra Patel, also from Bro Taf, called for solidarity with GP colleagues in England – reminding delegates that GPs in Wales also voted to threaten mass resignation in 2001 over the same issues of workload and recruitment.

He said: ‘We much show unity to GPC UK and really show our strength, that we are willing resign to establish the depth of the problem we have.’

However, GPC Wales deputy chair Dr David Bailey said that, while ‘we recognise absolutely the strains and stresses that led to the Special LMC Conference’, the GPC is ‘in a different place in Wales, we are not negotiating on the same contract and we are not negotiating with the same people’.

Speaking afterwards, GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones told Pulse: ‘Whilst we want to show solidarity with our UK colleagues, understanding the problems they are facing in England, actually in Wales it is a very different environment – we have a collaborative relationship with the Welsh Government, they listen to our concerns and they understand, and wants to address, the issues.’

She added: ‘There is no threat from the Welsh Government to impose any change on us… and it would be wrong to use something like this as a lever at the moment – it would be very damaging to the relationship.’

Emergency motion carried at Welsh LMC Conference 2016 – in full:

GPC UK – That Conference calls upon Welsh GPC to reject the motion passed at the Special UK LMC Conference which reads: ‘GPC should canvass GPs on their willingness to submit undated resignations.’