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BMA advises GPs to explain to patients reasons behind junior doctor strikes

BMA advises GPs to explain to patients reasons behind junior doctor strikes

The BMA encourages practices to ‘visibly demonstrate their support’ for GP trainees during the upcoming junior doctor strikes, in guidance published on Friday.

It suggests actions such as explaining to patients the reason for the strike, offering badges and stickers for practice staff, and changing patient-facing messaging for the impacted days, for example the pre-recorded phone message. 

GPs are strongly advised to cancel any clinics scheduled for GP trainees and to ask trainees about any patients who may need urgent action.

The guidance also advises practices on how to manage the impact of the industrial action on their work, how to plan GP trainee rotas, and how they can support GP trainees financially. 

It doesn’t include advice on how to manage with secondary care services being at lower capacity.

The guidance emphasises the importance of the strike, due to take place all day on 13, 14 and 15 March, for ‘the whole profession’, not just junior doctors.

When suggesting ways in which GPs can express support for the strike, the guidance says: ‘Given the importance of the success of this action for the whole profession, we would encourage all practices to visibly demonstrate their support for GP trainees in undertaking this action.’ 

Since participating in the industrial action will impact GP trainees’ pay, the BMA encourages making a donation to its strike fund which aims to subsidise members in serious financial difficulty, or making a gift payment to the practice’s own GP trainees. 

The strikes may also affect GP trainees’ education, with the planned strike days falling just a week before the Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA) submission date. 

Where GP trainees are worried about this, the guidance advises practices and supervisors to make ‘pragmatic arrangements’ so trainees have enough clinical exposure to demonstrate their competencies. 

The BMA has also said there should be no cancellation or changes to educational elements of GP trainees’ rotas during the industrial action, highlighting that this is the position of GPC England. 

LMCs in England, who showed support for all junior doctors at the November conference, are encouraged to distribute resources to practices and invite trainees to their meetings, allocating time for strike updates. 

When issuing this guidance to GPs, the BMA said: ‘Thank you once again for your solidarity with GP trainees and junior doctors. 

‘98% of junior doctors voted in favour of strike action and more junior doctors voted than ever before. 

‘This gives us a huge mandate, and puts the government under intense pressure. 

‘This is a step in the right direction for full pay restoration not just for junior doctors, but the whole profession.’

The strike dates were announced at the end of February after a ballot in which more than 36,200 doctors voted in favour of industrial action. 

Last week, the health secretary failed to avert junior doctor strike action, telling the BMA in a meeting that he had ‘no authority’ to renegotiate pay. 

The BMA has said that over the past 15 years, junior doctors have seen their pay erode by more than 26% with newly qualified doctors starting on £14 per hour, and that restoring pay would mean increasing that £14 to £19. 

Pulse revealed last week that a Leeds hospital trust offered medical students £11.11 an hour to provide clinical support on wards during the upcoming strike in an effort to tackle staff shortages.