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GPC ready to consider withdrawing from commissioning in pensions protest

Exclusive The GPC will consider the ‘pros and cons’ of GPs withdrawing from clinical commissioning in protest over the Government’s pensions reforms if BMA Council takes a decision to ballot doctors on industrial action at a crucial council meeting on Wednesday.

The GPC told 400 doctors attending the BMA’s final pensions roadshow event in central London on Friday that withdrawal from clinical commissioning is ‘one of the actions that GPC would consider’ if BMA Council decides to ballot members on industrial action.

The BMA Council will take into account the results of a poll of members, which closes today, asking doctors whether they accept or reject the Government’s final pensions offer and gauging their willingness to take industrial action.

In a straw poll, an overwhelming majority of the meeting’s 400 attendees indicated a willingness to take industrial action short of strike action, such as providing an emergency service only, but did not show support for an all out strike.

With GPs at the meeting expressing concerns about any form of industrial action that would affect patients more than the Government, the GPC said an advantage of withdrawing from commissioning would be its impact onone of the Government’s ‘key reforms’ without directly impacting patient care.

Responding to a question from the floor on whether GP’s could withdraw from commissioning as a form of industrial action, Dr Paddy Glackin, a GPC member and medical director of Londonwide LMCs, said: ‘If you tell us in the survey that you want us to consider industrial action, discussions will have to happen as to what that industrial action might be.’

‘Industrial action may involve different crafts taking different types of action, ‘he added. ‘It [withdrawing from commissioning] is certainly one of the actions that GPC would consider.’

‘Obviously there are pros and cons. One of the pros would be it impacts one of the Government’s key reforms. The possible con might be that there would be no plan B for example involving the private sector taking over commissioning.’

‘It certainly would be one of the things that would be looked at if you tell us that that’s what you want us to do.’

GPs can submit online responses to the BMA’s poll of members until midnight tonight. BMA sources said there had been an ‘encouraging’ response rate from doctors so far and urged GPs who had yet to respond to use the online submission today.

Dr Glackin echoed the call, and urged Pulse readers to respond to the BMA’s vote before tonight’s midnight deadline.

‘This is really, really important,’ he said. ‘Please if you are in your surgery and you are reading this before midnight on Monday, go on the BMA website, vote and tell us what you think.’

‘We need to know how strong the feeling is among membership because that will inform the decision that BMA Council will make over whether we go to a ballot on industrial action or not.’