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GP practices could be picketed in junior doctor action, says BMA

GP training practices could be picketed during the junior doctor industrial action if this goes ahead next month, the BMA has said.

The BMA has issued guidance specifically for GP practices explaining that trainees in a GP practice placement are not allowed on hospital picket lines as this is not their place of work.

It adds that practices should remember they are not themselves being picketed, and they should support their trainees’ actions.

But the guidance said that this aside, GP practices should not be directly affected by the action, as they should not be relying on ‘supernumerary’ trainees for day-to-day running of the practice anyhow.

The guidance comes as the BMA is expected to announce the result of the ballot tomorrow.

The BMA is urging GP practices to support the industrial action, planned for three dates in December pending the results of the ballot of junior doctor members, by not obstructing or discouraging junior doctors in their ‘legitimate’ right to take part.

The guidance added that trainees intending to take part in the action should discuss this with their practice in advance.

A recent Pulse survey showed that eight out of 10 GPs support junior doctors in taking action over the contract fallout with the Government.

The BMA guidance says: ’An employee is allowed to peacefully picket at or near their place of work on the basis that they are taking Protected Industrial Action. It would not be possible for GP trainees in a GP practice placement to join their colleagues in picket lines at hospitals as they would no longer be picketing at or near their place of work.

’The rules on industrial action mean that technically speaking, any industrial action taken by individuals has to be against their employer. For those GP trainees directly employed by practices, which is the case for the majority of GP trainees in their practice placement, they would therefore be technically taking action against the practice. 

‘It is important to remember, however, that the reason for the action would be the dispute with the Government on the imposition of a new contract for doctors in training, rather than any problem with you as a practice.’ 

The GPC said it is not expecting GP practices to see any surge in patients who would otherwise have attended A&E.

Deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’We’ve produced guidance for practices on what to do if industrial action is taken. On this issue I wouldn’t anticipate a “huge surge” in that A+E sees relatively small numbers of patients compared with the far larger number of patients the practices in the same area will see every day.’

The BMA is proposing that junior doctors stage a full walk-out, with no provision of emergency care, if members vote in favour of industrial action.

Read the full guidance here




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