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Pressure group urges ‘mass withdrawal’ of services by GPs

GP Survival has written to the GPC to urge that it instigates a ‘mass withdrawal’ of ‘enhanced services which are not appropriately funded’.

The group suggests, as an alternative to the ruled out mass resignations,  possible ‘unified action’ which GPs could take to highlight the crisis in general practice.

According to the letter from GP Survival chair Dr Matt Mayer to GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the pair met last week and, according to Dr Mayer, the GPC fears that taking such action could make them ‘look foolish’ due to ‘a perceived lack of unity among the profession’.

Dr Mayer’s letter says GP Survival members proposed the option of withdrawing enhanced services, but that it was ‘the opinion that such action would only work if it were officially proposed by the leadership of GPC’.

He said: ‘Besides the fact that only our designated trade union can propose the mass withdrawal of services, if such action were proposed by yourself it would give practices the security of knowing they are engaging in a union-backed campaign.

‘It would make sense for practices to be advised to serve notice to their respective CCGs that those unfunded services the practice is running will cease unless they become properly funded, and the CCG would either have to offer appropriate funding, or seek an alternative provider.’

Dr Mayer said Dr Nagpaul had ‘highlighted the difficulty in promoting forms of action which could result in practices being served breach notices, and that therefore individual GPs may be reluctant to engage’, and ‘expressed… concern that a push for unified action may backfire or make the GPC and BMA look foolish’.

But the letter added: ‘I do not feel fear of looking foolish, nor fear of lack of engagement should be a reason for inertia. I would strongly support you proposing such action, and therefore urge you to seriously consider doing so.’

The letter comes after the GPC in England dropped threats of a GP mass resignation in August because NHS England pledged to look at solutions to the crisis proposed in the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice.

But the GPC in Northern Ireland, which is going ahead with carrying out the threat, has received 97% sign-up to the plans from GP partners and is planning to ask practices to resign their contracts next month.

Pulse has also reported that Oxfordshire LMC was considering how such a plan could work in England.

Meanwhile, almost half of GP partners would be willing to give up their contract and work privately if the situation in general practice doesn’t improve, according to a recent Pulse survey of GPs across the UK.