A ‘constructive’ meeting between the BMA and NHS England’s new chief executive has failed to bring GPs back to negotiations, Pulse has learned.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse he has had a ‘positive discussion’ with Amanda Pritchard about the significant workload issues impacting general practice.
However, a BMA spokesperson confirmed that negotiations between the parties are not back on the cards as yet.
It follows an ongoing dispute between the BMA and NHS England after ‘tone deaf’ and ‘insulting’ letter was issued along with an update to the standard operating procedure, saying that practices must offer all patients face-to-face appointments if that is their preference, while receptions must be open for walk-ins.
A vote of ‘no confidence’ by BMA members in NHS England’s leadership resulted in a pause on formal meetings between the two which still remains in place.
Ms Pritchard was appointed as Sir Simon Stevens’ successor at the end of July – the first woman to head the NHS.
The BMA GP committee had called for talks with Ms Pritchard in a bid to break the deadlock that has been in place since May.
Ms Pritchard, who previously had been NHS England’s chief operating officer and chief executive of NHS Improvement has spoken of the challenges facing the NHS as it continues to deal with ‘significant pressures while maintaining the roll-out of the hugely successful NHS vaccination programme and tackle backlogs that have inevitably built up in the face of rising Covid infections’.
Dr Vautrey said: ‘I was pleased to meet the new chief executive of NHS England and Improvement so soon after her appointment.
‘We discussed the many issues impacting general practice, not least the significant workload pressures we are all experiencing as we deal with the impact of the pandemic and the NHS care backlog.
‘It was a positive discussion and I stressed the importance of supporting general practice both with words and action, something she seemed to take on board.
‘We hope that this constructive exchange will be the first steps along the road that paves the way for further work to rebuild our relations with NHSEI after the last few fractious months.’
Pulse reported in June that the BMA was still waiting for a response that would ‘restore confidence’ in NHS England following the fallout.