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Why the ‘nuclear option’ of mass resignation won’t work



So, wow, that was exciting, almost. I mean, I wasn’t there at the special LMC’s conference, but I felt like I was, thanks to Pulse’s live blog. 

And it seems that, given the impassioned mass-undated-resignation speech tub-thumping from Drs Katie, Clare and Fay, those medicopoliticians have, at last, grown a pair. Of ovaries, obviously.

A nuclear option is going to look really stupid if it blows up in our faces, or if it doesn’t go off at all

As so many said with reference to this ‘nuclear option’, if not now, when? Well, the answer to that appears to be oooh, let’s say six months, shall we, by which point the GPC might begin to start contemplating, as an inkling of a possibility, a ballot/survey on undated resignations, and we’ll have had time to take all the wrapping off Mr Hunt’s famous package.

And that, let’s face it, represents a significant defusing of our big bomb – which is presumably why the media appear to have shown absolutely zilch interest in the story thus far.

But that’s not the only problem with it. The other is, it won’t work. Look, it just won’t. We can come over all Che Guevara as much as we like, but when push comes to shove, I betcha that a significant number of GPs – certainly enough to undermine the idea – just won’t do it, citing things like mortgages, school fees, food, the sudden realisation that they’ll have nowhere else to earn money and the fact that, you know what, maybe things aren’t that bad after all. It’s bluster on a huge and transparent scale.

Besides, has the idea of unsigned resignations actually been thought through? Isn’t the contract with the practice now, rather than with individuals? So the whole practice will have to resign, won’t it? Or is the idea that individual militants might resign from a pacifist partnership, in which case, far from showing strength in solidarity, we’ll be the agents of our own disintegration?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as agitated about the Future of General Practice As We Know It as the next man/woman/partner/salaried Dr/locum etc. And I’m desperate, like you, to give the stupid Government a significantly deviated nasal septum. It’s just that a nuclear option is going to look really stupid if it blows up in our faces, or if it doesn’t go off at all. So if not now, maybe when we have a clearly focused issue we can all agree on, and we’ve figured out how the bomb works.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield