BMA’s England GP committee rejects Government’s rescue package and moves towards a ballot on industrial action

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Last reviewed: 21 October 2021
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The BMA’s England GP committee, which represents grassroots GPs in England, has formally rejected the package of measures recently heralded by the Health Secretary as the answer to the crisis facing general practice.

At a meeting earlier today, there was unanimous support from committee members to reject the plan published last week, which fundamentally failed to address the ongoing crisis in general practice, and for GPs to not engage in its implementation1.

In addition, the committee has called on practices to disengage with wider requirements and demands, as well as taking steps towards industrial action over the Government’s decision to impose plans on GP earnings declarations and forcing GPs to oversee the Covid vaccination exemption process2.

The BMA believes the Health Secretary ignored the expertise and experience of family doctors when he laid out his plan and that patient care will suffer as a result.

Now the Association’s GP committee is calling on the Government to work with them to introduce a new contract which ensures general practice is properly funded, with safer workload and reduced bureaucracy, and ultimately provides better care and services for patients and vastly improved working conditions for doctors and their teams.

In the meantime, GPs in England are encouraged to not comply with the very worst aspects of the Health Secretary’s plan – those, for example, which mean spending more time on bureaucratic process, or complying with target driven leagues tables to ‘name and shame’ GPs.

The Chair of the BMA GP Committee, Dr Richard Vautrey said:

“GPs have been left with no alternative but to take this action. All efforts to persuade the Government to introduce a workable plan that will bring immediate and longer-term improvement for doctors and their patients, have so far come to nought. The Government has completely ignored our requests for a reduction in bureaucracy to allow us to focus more on patient care, and we are therefore encouraging doctors to withdraw from this bureaucracy themselves.

“The ultimate outcome should be to end the current crisis in general practice, to properly support practices to manage their workload pressure, including safely getting through the backlog of care caused by the pandemic and deliver a safe service to patients, allowing time to create an agreed long-term plan to make general practice sustainable for the future.”

Services like the Covid vaccination programme and annual flu plan will not be affected by today’s decisions. GPs will continue to use their expertise to provide safe care for their patients based on their clinical need, rather than be driven by the Government’s target based and tick box approach to providing services.


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

GPC England

  1. The Motion debated said:
    That this committee is outraged by the deliberate, relentless denigration of GPs by Government, NHSEI and certain quarters of the media, and: (57/57 - 100% Agree)
    i. rejects the plan published by NHSEI on 14th October 2021 and calls on all LMCs (local medical committees) in England to disengage from any participation with the implementation of that plan (53 agree, 2 disagree, 2 abstain)
    ii. calls on all practices in England to pause all ARRS recruitment and to disengage from the demands of the PCN DES (47 agree, 8 disagree, 2 abstain)
    iii. promises its full support to protect and defend any constituent GPs who refuse to engage or comply with the unreasonable contractual impositions by NHSEI of “Pay Transparency” and “Covid Medical Exemption Certification” (54 agree, 1 disagree, 2 abstain)
    iv. calls on all practices in England to submit undated resignations from the PCN DES to be held by their LMCs, only to be issued on the condition that submissions by a critical mass of more than 50% of eligible practices is received (48 agree, 8 disagree, 1 abstain)
    v. instructs the GPC Executive to negotiate a comprehensive new contract to replace the outdated, underfunded, unlimited, unsafe workload of the current GP contract (49 agree, 6 disagree, 2 abstain)
  2. From early November, GPs will have to declare their NHS earnings if they are more than £150,000 per year. These figures and names will then be published. The BMA believes forcing GPs to publish their earnings provides no benefit to patients or their care, yet will potentially increase acts of aggression towards GPs and will damage morale amongst the profession and only worsen practices’ ability to recruit and retain GPs.
  3. The PCN DES (Primary Care Network Directed Enhanced Service) is a separate contract that practices enter into, working in groups with other local practices, and which has its own requirements and bureaucracy.
  4. ARRS refers to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, through which Primary Care Networks can hire healthcare staff such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and social prescribers.
  5. GPC will seek approval from BMA council, the association’s governing body, to ballot GP members on part iii.