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BMA planning for GP collective action to start in August

by Anna Colivicchi
20 May 2024

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The BMA has announced that it is planning for potential GP action to commence on 1 August.

The union will ballot GP partners on collective action following a successful vote at the GP Committee (GPC) England meeting held last week.

It has confirmed that the ballot will open on Monday 17 June and close on Monday 29 July ahead of action commencing from Thursday 1 August, depending on the result of the ballot.

In an update, GPC England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said that the ballot, which will happen online, will outline a menu of actions ‘which will not breach GP contracts’.

As part of the action, GP partners may be directed to stop fit notes, prescriptions or investigations ‘which should have taken place in the hospital setting’.

Dr Bramall-Stainer said: ‘GP contractors and partners are the key decision makers: able to take small steps leading to a big impact to protect practices and protect our patients.

‘Following the vote at GPC England to proceed to a ballot ahead of action, we will be explaining what action we are asking GPs to take, why, and when, early next month to coincide with our roadshows.

‘We will also be sharing profession-facing resources and a public-facing campaign very soon.

She called on GP members to ensure their details are up to date with BMA so they can be given a vote.

Last week, GPC England members voted through a motion to proceed with a ‘non-statutory ballot’, which means any action taken by GP partners will ‘not involve contract breaches’.

The BMA suggested that instead GP partners could limit appointments to the union’s ‘safe working maximum’ of 25, or reject workload dump by stopping or reducing ‘work that they’re not formally contracted to do’.

As reported earlier this year, GPC England is looking at options for collective action that would affect the GP interface with other NHS services as well as workload, rather than practices ‘shutting their doors’.

The committee indicated that this is 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.

It follows a referendum by the GPC England that 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.

A version of this article was first published on our sister title Pulse