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Reports that GPs could strike over swine flu “wholly inaccurate”

17 June 2009

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Reports that GPs are considering strike action in the event of a flu pandemic are “wholly inaccurate”, the chairman of the GPs’ Committee (GPC), Dr Laurence Buckman said yesterday (16 June 2009).

Concerns have been raised over a flu pandemic’s effect on GPs’ indemnity insurance cover, and a possible lack of death-in-service cover.

Earlier this week, Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the Scottish GPC, told the BBC: “Doctors will be putting their lives on the line, and it is only right they can feel assured they are properly covered if anything goes wrong. Doctors are only human, and some will not want to go on the frontline.”

The BMA criticised “misleading suggestions” in the media that GPs could strike over fears they will not be insured.

Dr Buckman (pictured) said: “GPs are not considering and have never considered strike action over this issue and the BMA would not support such action. Media reports claiming this to be the case are wholly inaccurate.

“Indeed, the evidence so far is that GPs in areas where there have been outbreaks have pulled out all the stops for their patients and I have complete faith that this will continue to be the case.”

He added: “The issue of death-in-service for locums is one of the few areas still to be ironed out, it affects a minority of GPs and we are working to resolve it quickly.”

The BMA has issued joint guidance with the RCGP to help GP practices plan how they will work during a flu pandemic.

Last Friday (12 June 2009), Steve Barnett, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, warned of the health services’ need to be ready for a flu pandemic after the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert level to Phase 6.

He said: “The confirmation of a level 6 global pandemic reinforces the need for the NHS to ensure all the flu plans already in place at local level are as comprehensive as possible and thoroughly tested. We need to avoid complacency in dealing with a virus that is an unknown and seems to be spreading quickly.

“The challenge facing all parts of the health service should not be underestimated and hospitals, PCTs and ambulance services will all need to use the next few weeks to ensure that they are prepared for a major flu outbreak.”


NHS Confederation

Related story: Swine-flu threat to doctors’ indemnity insurance cover