NHS managers could charge GPs with ‘mitigating disruption’ to practice services if thousands of practice staff opt to join November’s day of strike action over pensions, the BMA has warned.
In new guidance the BMA has urged GPs to contact PCOs ‘well in advance’ of the planned day of action on November 30th to protect themselves from any action, and get clarity on what level of service they will be expected to provide if practice nurses and reception staff go on strike.
The BMA guidance urges GPs to take a ‘tolerant attitude’ if staff want to strike, but warns PCOs are likely to expect GPs to ‘ take reasonable action to mitigate any disruption’ to care.
Earlier this month Pulse revealed that over 8,000 practice nurses and reception staff are set to be balloted by Unison, Unite and GMB over the day of strike action. The BMA guidance confirmed that GPs are entitled to withhold pay from staff for the period they go on strike but warned that practices could fall foul of union law if they draft in agency cover for striking employees.
The guidance states:‘The BMA is encouraging GPs to take a tolerant attitude to lawful industrial action by their staff on the day of action, bearing in mind that patient safety must be paramount.’
‘To protect your position, you are strongly advised to contact your PCTO well in advance of the 30th November to seek clarification as to what is expected of you. It is likely that GP practices will be expected to take reasonable action to mitigate any disruption.’
‘An employee is not entitled to be paid for the period in which he/she has taken industrial action. You are strongly advised to take advice from the BMA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org as to the amount of money which can be lawfully deducted.’