GP leaders reject ‘unsafe and insulting’ contract offer for England

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Thursday 2 February 2023

The BMA’s England GP committee has rejected ‘insulting’ proposed changes to the GP contract in England1, which completely ignore the unsustainable and unsafe pressures practices are under right now.

With no additional investment to counter the damaging impact of soaring inflation on practice expenses – and to cover rising fuel bills and increasing staffing costs – GP leaders say this year’s offer from NHS England risks the safety of patients, brings the very future of practices into question and will cause even more GPs to leave when they are needed most.

GPC England members therefore voted to reject the changes at a meeting today.

If the Government and NHS England refuses to negotiate an improved offer, and a contract is imposed on practices, this would send entirely the wrong message to patients and a profession speaking up to defend patient safety. GPC England would therefore be forced to consider all options, including the potential for industrial or collective action.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting chair of the BMA’s England GP committee, said:

“This year’s offer is a slap in the face of hardworking GPs and patients across the country.

“To offer nothing to meet the spiralling costs of running practices as inflation runs rife, and teams continue to do more with less, is insulting to staff and unsafe for patients.

“Last year, practices in England delivered 329 million appointments – 17 million more than in 2019, before the pandemic2. Two-thirds of these were face-to-face and 85% took place within two weeks of booking. Yet the Government, via NHS England, continues to tell us we’re not working hard enough, and puts further unreachable targets and political soundbites ahead of safe, quality care.

“With inflation remaining stubbornly high, burdening practices with rising expenses for bills, staff and services, this offer will lead partners to question the very viability of practices and their ability to continue trying to provide safe care to their patients. When we’ve lost more than 400 practices in England since 2019, impacting millions of patients, we cannot afford to lose any more3.

“The biggest crisis facing general practice, staff and patients is the steeply declining workforce. GPs are leaving in their droves – with the equivalent of almost 2,000 full-time family doctors having gone since 2015, more than 400 in the last year alone4. For many undecided GPs, this insulting offer will likely be the final straw in pushing them out the surgery door.

“In rejecting this offer we are standing up for both the future of the profession and the safe care of patients. General practice can no longer be expected to take whatever is thrown at it. If there is no change in approach from this Government, it will preside over the death of general practice as we know it.”


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.

  1. In 2019, the BMA’s England GP committee reached an agreement on a five-year contract framework with NHS England. It was agreed that annual changes within this framework would be negotiated between GPCE and NHSE each year.
  2. Source: NHS Digital – Appointments in General Practice.
  3. Source: NHS Digital – Appointments in General Practice.
  4. Source: NHS Digital – General Practice Workforce.