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GPs urged to vote ‘yes’ to collective action as BMA ballot opens

GPs urged to vote ‘yes’ to collective action as BMA ballot opens

GPs are being urged ‘take a stand’ and vote ‘yes’ to collective action, in a BMA ballot opening today.  

The union is currently planning for potential GP collective action to commence on 1 August, depending on the result of the ballot which will close on Monday 29 July.

In the ballot, GP partners are being asked if they are ‘prepared to undertake one or more examples of collective action’ as outlined in the BMA campaign to Protect Your Patients, Protect Your Practice.

As revealed by Pulse, the examples include refusing to engage in advice and guidance, seeing patients ‘face to face as a default’, and switching off the GP connect functionality which permits remote NHS 111 appointment booking.

The GPC said it is up to practices to choose which actions to take from a menu of actions proposed by the union.

As apart of collective action, the GPC will be ‘inviting GP partners to work with their practice management team’ and, working in liaison with their LMC, ‘determine the actions they will be willing to take’.

BMA menu of action for GP practices


1. Practices should defer signing declarations of completion for “better digital telephony” and “simpler online requests” until further GPC England guidance in by 2025

  •  Better digital telephony: Practices who have not declared or received monies need not agree to share call volume metrics before October 2024.   
  • ‘Simpler online requests: Practices who have not declared or agreed to share data as part of the “online consultation systems in general practice” publication, nor received monies, may continue to switch off their online triage tool during core hours, when they have reached their maximum capacity.

Data sharing

2. Switch off GPConnect functionality which permits the entry of coding into the GP clinical record by third-party providers. Read our guidance on GP data sharing and GP data controllership.

3. Withdraw permission for data sharing agreements which exclusively use data for secondary purposes (i.e. not direct care).

4. Freeze sign-up to any new data sharing agreements or local system data sharing platforms.

Safety first

5. Limit daily patient contacts per clinician to the UEMO recommended safe maximum of 25. Divert patients to local urgent care settings once daily maximum capacity has been reached.

6. Stop engaging with the e-Referral Advice & Guidance pathway.

7. Serve notice on any voluntary services currently undertaken which plug local commissioning gaps.

8. See patients face to face as a default, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.

9. Switch off Medicines Optimisation Software embedded by the local ICB for the purposes of system financial savings and/or rationing, rather than the clinical benefit of your patients.

Stopping actions

10. Stop rationing referrals. Refer your patient for specialist care when it is clinically appropriate to do so, via eRS.

Outside of 2WW, write a professional referral letter where this is preferable to using a local referral form.

11. Stop rationing investigations. Refer your patient for specialist diagnostic investigations when it is clinically appropriate to do so.

12. Stop unsafe risk-holding to protect the system over the patient. Admit your patient to the local Emergency Department when it is clinically appropriate to do so via a written referral letter to the admitting team.

Source: BMA

The GPC is encouraging all members to vote ‘yes’ and ‘send a message to NHSE that GPs and their practice teams are ready to stand together’ for better services for patients and to protect practices.

In an update to members, GPC England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said: ‘It is for each practice to pick and choose as they see fit. You may decide to add to your choices over the days, weeks, and months ahead. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

‘We are not asking you to breach your contract, but we are asking you to take a stand.’

She added: ‘I urge all GP partner and contractor members to vote “yes” and show the next Government that GPs can no longer tolerate running practices with less and less funding as demand continues to spiral.

‘We want to provide patients with a quality service but it’s increasingly clear, and our patients can see for themselves – we simply cannot do that without sufficient investment and more GPs in our surgeries.’

The outcome of the ballot will inform the ‘collective next steps’ and if the majority of members vote in favour of collective action, the BMA will ‘direct practices’ to choose one or more suggested actions from the menu from 1 August.

The GPC said that this is ‘an opportunity for a collective professional reset’, to draw ‘a line in the sand’ and say ‘no more’.

‘It’s not a strike, it’s not a crash diet, this is more a lifestyle modification. It’s going to continue this way; it’s not just for the summer. It is until the next Government comes to the table and agrees a new contract that is safe for GP partners, their practices, and their patients,’ the GPC added.

The committee indicated that this will be a ‘first phase’ of action, and that ‘further escalation’ beyond a non-statutory ballot can be stopped if the Government agrees to make ‘contractual improvements’ in 2024/25 and restore GP funding to 2018/19 levels.

But ‘phase two’ could involve ‘escalation’ to contract breach actions, ‘action short of strike’ and ‘strike action’, which may include salaried GPs, registrar GPs and or other practice staff.

The GPC’s asks of Government will be summarised in a ‘vision document’ being launched at a roadshow at BMA House on Thursday 18 July.

It follows a referendum by the GPCE which found that 99% of GPs did not agree with the recent contract imposition, as well as the committee officially declaring a ‘dispute’ with NHS England.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Gregory Rose 17 June, 2024 12:26 pm

They need to make it clear if non-BMA member practices can join in the action.

David Banner 17 June, 2024 12:45 pm

Re Gregory Rose -…..or is it a cunning plan to boost BMA membership numbers? And will GPs cough up BMA fees to join in with this impotent half-baked plan that will inevitably be patchy, uncoordinated, achieve nothing and be noticed by nobody ?

Turn out The Lights 17 June, 2024 3:13 pm

Dont waste your money on the BMA what have they done for us in the last 15 years.

John Graham Munro 17 June, 2024 3:28 pm

Re David Banner———–spot on

Some Bloke 17 June, 2024 7:34 pm

Well, how do other professions manage disputes?- through their unions. Don’t understand all the fuzz about membership

David Church 17 June, 2024 7:50 pm

There is no reason why non-BMA-members would not be able to participate in the action of following the same guidelines. It is not like a strike or where members would get ‘strike pay’.
It remains important that all surgeries remain in contact with their local LMC – for whom all GPs, both Partners, and Salaried, and Locums, are automatically members in their area and entitled to LMC advice – in both directions :please keep LMCs informed of any challenges from ICBs or LHBs or Hospital Trusts.
GPs working for private companies running GP services, of course, must follow the instructions of their employer, if they are an employer and not in an ’employment dispute’ with their employer. Directly employed GPs who are ’employees’ can still have advice from their LMC, but are probably not ‘in dispute’, so the situation is different for them.

Out of here And happy 17 June, 2024 8:48 pm

Oh … this current government, and labour ( the next ) , must be so scared now about what we might do , they will cave in and give us whatever we want ……
Really BMA , is that the best you can do.
Might as well not have bothered
Are you actually, really ,GP’s or not , because this is pathetic