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BMA calls off mass GP resignation ballot

NHS England agrees to basis for discussions on general practice

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The BMA has dropped its plan to hold an indicative ballot of GPs to judge their willingness to resign en masse or take industrial action over growing problems in general practice.

The decision followed a letter sent to the BMA by NHS England in which the latter agreed to accept the BMA GP committee’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice campaign proposals as a basis for ongoing discussions.

The Urgent Prescription for General Practice campaign, launched in April, calls for a package of support to address the growing problems facing GP services.

The proposals in the Urgent Prescription document, that will now form the basis for future talks with NHS England, include:

  • ensuring that GPs work within safe limits each day
  • enabling GPs to have longer appointments to meet the needs of patients
  • ending inappropriate workload demands on GPs that could be done by other parts of the NHS
  • empowering patients to better manage their own health when appropriate
  • ending time-consuming bureaucracy, such as chasing up hospital actions or re-referring patients
  • provide GP practices with more frontline staff and facilities to meet record increase in the public’s demand for GP services

The BMA’s GP committee had set a deadline for additional measures to alleviate pressures affecting GPs following a motion at the Local Medical Committee’s (LMC) annual conference held in May.

Following NHS England’s letter, the GP committee said it would not be proceeding with an indicative ballot of GPs about willingness for mass resignations or industrial action, but it would survey members in September to ask GPs for their views on future negotiations with the government.

In the letter, Rosamond Roughton, NHS England’s director of NHS commissioning, says: “NHS England accepts the BMA’s Urgent Prescription as a good basis for further discussion and work on supporting general practice pressures, also noting that some of the proposals need greater detail.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “The BMA’s GP committee has made the critical state of crisis in general practice in England absolutely clear to the government.

“GP services are buckling under the strain of soaring patient demand, declining budgets, staff shortages and unresourced work being moved from hospitals into the community.

“Many practices fear they are facing the possibility of closure, while nearly four in ten GPs have told a recent BMA survey they are considering quitting their jobs in the next five years.

“In response to the calls from the BMA, NHS England has accepted taking forward our proposals to alleviate the unsustainable pressures on practices.

“Crucially, NHS England has recognised that GPs need to work within manageable workload limits to ensure safe and quality patient care. The BMA will now be meeting NHS England to develop these proposals further.”

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