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Letter to GPs on day of action

12 June 2012

To: All North West London GMS/PMS/APMS contract holders

Dear colleague,

Industrial Action by GPs on 21 June 2012

We note the announcement from the BMA about the decision of its members to take industrial action on 21 June 2012. GPs working in primary care contracts do so in a number of different contract types (GMS, PMS, APMS) and individuals will have different employment arrangements too (partnership, contract of employment etc).

My purpose in writing is to set out the NHS’s expectations of service delivery during this time and how any industrial action will be handled in contract terms. Patient safety is paramount and planning for the day of action is essential.

In order that the PCT Cluster is able to plan for and ensure service delivery to patients across the whole health economy, I attach a proforma for completion by your practice to ascertain the level of service each contract intends to deliver on the 21 June.

I would welcome your support in responding to this request in line with the BMA’s advice to you to assist with PCO planning in this regard. Industrial action has the potential to impact on patient care and cause distress and disruption to patients. The key issue for the PCTs to address is that any disruption caused by industrial action does not jeopardise patient welfare or safety.

The BMA has made it clear that any industrial action by GPs will be short of a full strike and that individual doctors may choose not to provide routine appointments.

The NHS’s position is that we expect all of our Primary Medical Services contractors to continue to deliver the contract in full. Although it is of course an individual’s right to take lawful industrial action, any GP practice that fails to provide a service during core hours on the day of action will be regarded as having been in breach of contract, even if the individual participating in that industrial action carries out the majority of work he or she would normally undertake.

During core hours you are required to provide the following:
a) To provide –
(i) Essential services, and
(ii) Additional services funded under the global sum at such times, within core hours, as are appropriate to meet the reasonable needs of its patients; and
b) To have in place arrangements to access such services throughout the core hours in case of emergency.

Your contractual obligations do not diminish by the fact individuals may choose to take industrial action and as the contract holder it is your responsibility to ensure a full service is delivered despite the actions of individuals employed by you to deliver those services.

Consequently the local NHS may also decide to withhold certain payments due to a contract holder by way of compensation for any breach should it occur. In addition, formal contract breach notices would be issued. In order to understand the impact of the planned industrial action on patient care, we would like you to answer the questions included on appendix 1.

We will use this information to help inform business continuity planning across the cluster and the Capital on the day of the action.

Please return this form to by 12 noon on Friday 15th June. I regret having to write out in these terms.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Rainsberry

Chief Executive

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