May 2016: the LMC’s Conference gives NHS England three months to accept the ‘Urgent Prescription for General Practice’ or face a ballot on mass resignation or other industrial action.
August 2016: the ballot is called off because, to quote the headline of the email from the BMA, ‘GPC’s Urgent Prescription accepted by NHS England.’
How could this crystal clear conference mandate get mangled into nothingness?
Wowzers. I haven’t ripped open an email with such throbbing anticipation since a rich Nigerian prince craved my most excellent and immediate indulgence. But would you believe it? Both turned out to be a scam.
‘Accepted by NHS England’? Accepted as in agreeing that, to quote the director of NHS commissioning, it’s ‘..a good basis for further discussion…noting that some of the proposals need greater detail.’ So, accepted as in the typical politico bland-speak of arm’s length grudging acknowledgement. Accepted as in, yeah, OK, at some point we might begin to consider that we might start thinking about kicking that can of an idea down the road until it’s diluted into nothingness or forgotten about entirely. Accepted as in absolutely not accepted.
And just to rub it in, the BMA has shifted position from a ballot of members to yet another sodding survey. That should strike fear in Jeremy Hunt’s soul.
Look, I know a mass ‘strike’ was never going to happen. And that any type of industrial action is going to be fraught with difficulties – although if the GPC is bereft of ideas, Pulse has come up with some crackers.
Seriously, though, how could this crystal clear conference mandate get mangled into nothingness? It reeks of relief at the GPC being backed into a corner and finding an unexpected escape hatch. But believe me, it won’t wash in the frontline.
We’ve gone from lobbing Molotov cocktails at the Government to sipping Pina Coladas with them. Either way, it’s not a tonic for the troops.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex