GP trainees will not be barred from protesting during potential upcoming junior doctor strikes, but will only be able to join a picket line at or close to the hospital they are currently working in, the BMA has said.
At the beginning of this month, the union announced that England’s junior doctors will strike for 72 hours in March should last week’s ballot be successful.
It comes after a tumultuous few months which saw both nurses and ambulance staff take strike action over pay and conditions.
The union said that if a GP trainee wishes to picket legally, it must be at or near their place of work and they are not able to picket at a place that is not considered their place of work.
However, a GP trainee is not barred from taking part in a protest that takes place near to a hospital or other NHS building. If they are not part of a picket line, they can join any organised protest.
The BMA argues that junior doctors have seen 15 years of real-terms pay cuts, amounting to a 26.1% decline in pay since 2008/09.
And it warns that unless the Government reverses these pay cuts more doctors will leave the NHS at the same time as it tackling record waiting lists.
On Thursday (12 January) BMA’s chairman Dr Philip Banfield spoke to health secretary Steve Barclay, in a meeting that was described as ‘constructive.’
Dr Banfield said: ‘The Government wanted to talk about the pay review body and their evidence, while we wanted to talk about how that is not enough, and that any discussion about any doctors’ pay must include full restoration.
‘While this must be the first of many talks about how to do this for all doctors, juniors have faced some of the steepest cuts to their pay of any public sector worker over the last 15 years, with their pay falling by more than a quarter in real-terms since 2008/9.
‘As a result, we risk losing thousands of talented healthcare professionals; four in 10 have told the BMA they are actively planning to leave the NHS as soon as they can find another job.
‘The Secretary of State listened to what we had to say, and indicated a willingness to work with us, but we need action now.
‘If we can head off industrial action, we will, but we must be prepared and ready to act if the Government refuses to address the worsening workforce crisis in health and social care.’
Last week, Mr Barclay confirmed steps the Government is taking to ensure the NHS has the support it needs to tackle ‘increased pressures’ and gave updates on the Government’s plans to provide up to £250m to speed up getting patients out of hospital.
But some GPs believe the announcement came ‘too little too late.’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Kier Starmer said GPs should focus on caring for patients ‘rather than the admin that comes with effectively running a small business’, which would involve patients being able to self-refer.