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BMA sets out timeline for GP industrial action planned in the autumn

by Rima Evans
6 March 2024

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The BMA has set out an approximate timeline for GP industrial action in England, with dates to be announced in October and action timed to help make it ‘a doorstep issue’ during general election campaigning.

A referendum is also being held on the new 2024/25 GP contract, with voting by BMA GP members opening today.

GP committee England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer released the timeline to show the steps planned for the coming months and ‘to enable GPs to see the context’ in which a referendum on the contract is taking place.

Despite the contract being imposed, and NHS England saying it is final and will be implemented, GP Committee England (GPCE) has gone ahead with the referendum, which will run until 27 March. A number of webinars are being organised throughout this three-week period to provide GPs with more information on the background to it.

The vote asks BMA members: ‘Do you accept the 2024/25 GMS contract for general practice from Government and NHS England?’

Respondents are able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in answer to the question.

Dr Bramall-Stainer said the referendum will be ‘a temperature check’ for the profession.

Meanwhile, the timeline document, which ‘may be subject to change’ depending on the referendum result and the final date of a general election, plans for GPs to be balloted on industrial action early in September.

Dates for action would then be announced in October and ‘timed to commence alongside the likely announcement of a late November/early December general election when the UK enters a period of pre-election sensitivity (Purdah)’.

The purdah period effectively silences the Department of Health and Social Care/NHS England mandate expected for the 2025/26 contract negotiations, the plan explained.

The impact of this timing will also mean ongoing GP industrial action coincides with UK general election campaigns, ‘likely’ making it a ‘doorstep issue’.

Key dates before Autumn include the BMA and LMCs holding roadshows in 10 regions in early summer. These will ‘complement’ focus groups to be held with both the public and profession on GP industrial action.

In July, GPCE will seek permission from the BMA UK Council to approve the option for prospective industrial action.

BMA timeline to GP industrial action

March 2024

  • Contract 2024/25 published.
  • 7 – 27 March: referendum voting open.
  • Webinars through the three-week referendum window.
  • 28 March: GPCE to determine next steps with referendum outcome.
  • Period of pre-election sensitivity ‘purdah’ from 16 March comes into effect limiting announcements by arms of Government ahead of the local elections in May.


  • Imposed contract comes into effect.
  • 24/25 contract guidance due to be produced for England LMCs and practices by GPCE.
  • GPCE vision to be compiled with support from the policy groups.


  • 2 May: local council elections 2 May.
  • 16 May: Vision document to be published at GPCE meeting.
  • 24-25 May: UK Conference LMCs with GPCE/LMC roadshow dates announced for the 10 England regions.


  • Political party manifestos likely to be published.
  • GPCE/LMC roadshows across the 10 England regions commence (dates TBC).
  • BMA to undertake focus groups on GP industrial action (IA) with public and profession to complement the roadshows in England.
  • 24-25 June: BMA Annual Representative Meeting.


  • GPCE request permission from BMA UK Council to approve option for prospective IA. GPCE will meet face-to-face to deliberate strategic timeline and plan for Autumn action (if required).
  • Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration Board (DDRB).


  • Allow time for negotiations in light of DDRB discussions to prepare communications tools and resources for use in September.


  • BMA membership push from the very start of the month, with a view to open the IA ballot by early September (if required) to coincide with political party conferences.


  • Potential GP IA across England announced and enacted timed to commence alongside likely announcement of a late November/early December general election when UK enters period of pre-election sensitivity ‘purdah’. This period effectively silences the Department of Health and Social Care/NHS England mandate expected for the 2025/26 Contract negotiations.


  • US Presidential elections.
  • UK general election campaigns with ongoing GP collective action likely coming up as a doorstep issue.


  • Likely general election.
  • Ongoing GP collective action.

January 2025

  • 31 January: final date for a general election under current legislation.
  • Likely negotiations begin with new Government and new health secretary and ministers. Whatever the shape of that new Government, the GPCE team will require a mandate and evidence of collective action to meet to negotiate the most favourable and successful outcome.

Source: BMA document published by Londonwide LMCs