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GP trainees advised to ‘not attend their practice’ on junior doctor strike days

by Anna Colivicchi
28 June 2023

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The BMA has advised GP trainees to ‘not attend their practice at all’ during the upcoming junior doctors’ strikes.

The next walkout will take place for five days starting at 7am on Thursday 13 July, in a move that is thought to be the longest period of industrial action seen in the NHS.

The doctors’ union issued new guidance for GP trainees as it said it is ‘essential that this significant cohort demonstrates the strength of feeling amongst the profession by participating fully in this industrial action’.

The guidance said: ‘If you are a GP trainee with an NHS employer, you are a junior doctor included in the pay dispute and are encouraged to take part in the strike action.

‘A full walkout means that you should not see patients on strike days, nor should you perform administrative work (e.g. reviewing bloods tests and other non-patient facing clinical tasks). Our advice is to not attend your practice at all on strike days.’

The BMA had previously confirmed that GP trainees would not be barred from protesting during the junior doctor strikes but would only be able to join a picket line at or close to their place of work.

The new guidance also encouraged GP trainees who might be reluctant to take part in the industrial action because they are due to finish training soon to participate.

The union said: ‘We understand that for GP trainees who are ST3+ you might question the personal benefit of participating in any industrial action, when you are due to finish training soon and you might not see the direct benefit of any increase in pay.

‘In addition, as you are about to exit training you might be concerned about the impact of undertaking industrial action on your relationship with your GP colleagues and future career options.’

But the BMA argued that if junior doctors succeed in this action, it will improve their ‘ability to secure improvements for other areas of the health profession’, including the working conditions within general practice.

‘Amendments to the pay of doctors are usually backdated to the April of that year, so depending on your date of CCT, you may see the benefits of an increase in pay for GP trainees,’ the union added.  

Earlier this year, GP practices were ‘strongly advised’ to cancel any clinics scheduled for GP trainees on industrial action days and encouraged to ‘visibly demonstrate their support’ for GP trainees. For example, practices could consider giving a financial gift to their GP trainees to compensate them for lost pay during the junior doctor strikes, the BMA said.

The BMA also reiterated that this action by all junior doctors ‘has the support of the whole of the BMA and profession’ and that the GP profession has ‘explicitly demonstrated its complete support of GP trainees undertaking this action’, during a debate at the UK LMC conference last month, in which GP leaders said GPs should ‘take a similar approach’ to junior doctors.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister publication, Pulse.