GP leaders dismayed as Secretary of State refuses additional help for practices

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Friday 3 March 2023

GP leaders from the British Medical Association say they are dismayed at the Health and Social Care Secretary’s refusal to support GP practices at a time when they are experiencing unprecedented pressures and increasingly unable to meet the needs of patients.

Following the BMA’s England GP committee (GPC England) rejecting a contract offer from NHS England last month, representatives met with Steve Barclay yesterday, in a final bid to negotiate meaningful changes that would provide security and sustainability for practices and patients in England. However, Mr Barclay refused to come forth with any improved offer.

The BMA now expects the imposition of a contract on practices, and will be discussing with GP members and the wider profession how they wish to respond.

BMA GPC England acting chair Dr Kieran Sharrock said: “We approached yesterday's meeting in a spirit of collaboration hopeful that the Secretary of State would listen to our evidence and logic and be willing to take meaningful action to support practices and their patients when they need it most. We were therefore dismayed at his refusal to offer anything more than NHS England’s insulting offer last month.

“This offer included no extra help for practices to meet the rising costs of running practices, while lumping more bureaucracy and arbitrary targets on practices that only set them up to fail.

“It felt like yesterday's meeting was simply a tick box exercise for the Secretary of State and that, for him, merely showing up was enough. Well, it wasn’t.

“If the Government is serious about improving experiences for patients, it needs to listen to those of us who dedicate our working lives to looking after them in increasingly difficult circumstances. We’ve lost the equivalent of more than 2,000 full-time, fully qualified GPs in England since this Government first promised 5,000 more in 2015; this should be a mark of shame for ministers.

“But is it any wonder when politicians continue to refuse to engage and listen? Messages like the one sent by Mr Barclay will only push more GPs towards the exit door and leave more patients struggling to see a family doctor.

“As far as we see it this is the end of the road for this year’s contract negotiations and we will now be entering serious discussions with our membership and the profession on where we go next.”


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.