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BMA to consider further action on pensions if Government fails to offer concessions

The BMA will consider further days of action if a vote to provide only emergency care over 24 hours does not bring concessions from the Government over pensions.

The threat to intensify the dispute with further ‘continuous action’ comes as the GPC looks at developing advice to ensure GPs are not hit with breach of contract notices by primary care organisations.

The BMA is balloting members next month on whether to provide only urgent and emergency care for a 24-hour period in protest at the Government’s NHS pension reforms, and last week a Pulse poll revealed GPs were likely to back the first doctors’ industrial action since the 1970s.

But the BMA said this week it would look at further action if necessary and that this would not require a further ballot.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We will review the impact of the day of action, and the results of that will determine any further action. [Further days of action] are not out of the question.’

Pulse’s Say No to 30% campaign, launched last week, called for the BMA to ‘be willing to ballot on further action’.

Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the BMA pensions committee, said: ‘There’s no commitment that this will be a one-off. It might just be the first thing to happen. We will look at further action depending on the Government’s response. And we wouldn’t need to re-ballot.’

Some PCOs have already threatened to hold GPs in breach of contract if they take part in industrial action, with NHS Lanarkshire and the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth PCT cluster this week standing by their warning.

Dr Bailey admitted GPs would technically be in breach of contract, but said the GPC was developing advice: ‘We believe it would be extremely difficult for any PCO to argue there had been a material breach and take action over it. If they did, we would very robustly defend it.’