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GPs declare rescue package ‘inadequate’ and vote in favour of industrial action



GPs will be canvassed on their willingness to sign undated resignations and take industrial action following a passionate debate at the LMCs conference this morning.

GP leaders at the LMCs Conference today voted in favour of a motion that said that they ‘not accept the General Practice Forward View is an adequate response’ to the crisis in general practice, and ’considers it to be sufficient grounds for a trade dispute’.

The motion, proposed by Dr Jackie Applebee, from Tower Hamlets LMC, follows the call for mass resignations in January, which gave NHS England six months to provide a rescue package.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the motion was about a ‘democratic process’ to see where GPs stand.

Delegates had said that there was not sufficient urgency in the General Practice Forward View, while speakers warned it had failed by not committing any money to core GP funding.

Dr Applebee asked: ’Are we going to accept the demise of general practice? If not now, when? Will there be a general practice to defend if we wait much longer?

’The Government can always find money if the will is there, but is the will there? We have to remember that this is a Government determined to drive through austerity. [Dr Nagpaul] very rightly said yesterday that we must hold NHS England to account, but how?

’They may have belatedly begun to listen but the GP Forward View does not throw the lifeline that practices need right here right now.’

This vote is the profession’s most robust response over whether the General Practice Forward View is adequate as a rescue package.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said yesterday that the number of people leaving general practice suggested that mass resignation is ‘an impending reality, and not a threat’.

Speaking on the motion today, he said: ’The GPC are servants of the democratic process and that democratic process means representing 35,000-40,000 GPs, most of whom are not here today. 

’So for me this motion is about that democratic process. It is about actually asking GPs where they stand. I think we know where they stand, we know exactly what they are experiencing, but it is about actually for the first time getting a real idea of what they want us to do, and what they are prepared to do.

He added that this ’isn’t about threat. He went on: ’I think what is important is that people are leaving, and my proudest moment was, like many others have said, becoming a GP… and then I am sitting here and I am actually worried whether my practice is coping today. And I think many of you here today are worried about whether your practice is coping today.

’I’m worried about looking at my emails. I worry about the two weeks of holiday I would like to take this summer. That is the reality and I think that it is right that we find out from the profession their intent and the reality that is unfolding before us.’

Dr Andrew Green, chair of the GPC clinical and prescribing subcommittee, called on GPs to vote against the motion, saying junior doctors showed the level of support needed to make a stand – which GPs were unlikely to match. 

He said: ’What is the juniors’ greatest strength? It is unity. What would be our greatest mistake? To expose disunity. And that is exactly what a call for industrial action at this time would do. I’m sorry conference but we will not get anywhere near that magical 98% – and that will look like a defeat before we have even started.’

In January, the Special LMC Conference voted overwhelmingly to carry a motion proposing that ‘the GPC should canvass GPs on their willingness to submit undated resignations’ unless ’negotiations with government for a rescue package for general practice’ are ’concluded successfully within six months’.

Motions in full

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by Tower Hamlets: That conference does not accept the General Practice Forward View is an adequate response to the GPCs statement of need within the BMAs Urgent Prescription for General Practice, and considering this to be sufficient grounds for a trade dispute, unless the government agrees to accept the Urgent Prescription within 3 months of this conference, the GPC should ask the BMA to:

(i) ballot the profession on their willingness to sign undated resignations CARRIED

(ii) ballot the profession on their willingness to take industrial action CARRIED

(iii) ballot the profession as to what forms of industrial action they are prepared to take CARRIED 

(iv) produce a report to practices on the options for taking industrial action that doesn’t breach their contracts CARRIED

 

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by Cambridgeshire: That conference with regards to the General Practice Forward View;

(i) Welcomes the acknowledgment of significant past underfunding and commitment to increased spending CARRIED

(ii) believes that most of the investment promised is conditional upon practices delivering transformation and service change CARRIED

(iii) recognises that only some of the demands of the profession have been included, and instructs GPC to continue to press for further dedicated resources to support GPs CARRIED

(iv) does not believe that there is sufficient urgency in the measures described CARRIED

(v) is concerned that the present financial state of the NHS makes the prospects of these financial flows unlikely CARRIED