GPs have voted overwhelmingly to ballot for industrial action if ‘disastrous’ changes to their working contract, which they say threaten patient safety, are not reviewed in the coming months.1
The vote took place at an emergency meeting of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee in England (GPCE) today, with 98% of members voting in favour to begin the process of entering into a dispute - beginning with preparations for an indicative ballot in the coming months if the Government fails to negotiate a new contract that is fit for purpose.
The meeting was called after the Government and NHS England decided to impose changes to the 2023/24 GP contract, despite repeated warnings from GPCE that they were not suitable proposals.
Changes to the contract were roundly rejected by the committee in February, after the committee argued the proposals were ‘unsafe and insulting’. Although some minor changes were made, the contract still failed to support GPs and was imposed from 1st April.
Since then, the committee has also tried to meet with the Health Secretary to negotiate a better contract, but this too has been cast aside.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting chair of GPCE at the BMA, said: “Today’s vote is an opportunity for the Government to put right this disastrous contract and to secure the future of patient safety.
“No GP wants to have to consider taking industrial action – and it’s something we still hope to avoid - but the committee has been flatly ignored each time we’ve explained why this contract isn’t workable and needs to be urgently renegotiated.
“General practice is under unprecedented pressure, and these contract changes will only make things worse by taking GPs away from their patients when they need us the most. This is a time to support the health service, not wave through policies that only pummel us further into the ground.”
Notes to editors
1. The motion voted on was:
This committee calls on the Government to agree a contract with GPC England which recognises and funds the increased workload carried out by general practices, and enables practices to provide safe patient care with freedom and trust.
If the Government fails to do this, then this committee will ballot GPs working in England on industrial action.
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.