GPs plan industrial action if contract not revised

by Peter Blackburn

Threat to patient safety must be removed if doctors to avoid dispute 

Location: England
Published: Thursday 27 April 2023

GPs have voted to ballot for industrial action in England in the coming months if the Government does not renegotiate ‘disastrous’ contract changes imposed on doctors.

Doctors leaders say the changes to their working contract ‘threaten patient safety’ and have voted to ballot for industrial action if they are not addressed.

The vote took place at an emergency meeting of the BMA general practitioners committee in England today, with 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 renegotiate the contract.

The meeting was called after the Government decided to impose changes to the 2023/24 GP contract, despite repeated warnings from GPCE that they were unhelpful proposals that would worsen rather than improve patient care.

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 1 April.


Talks stalled

Doctors leaders have attempted to meet with the health secretary to negotiate a better contract, but talks have not materialised.

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 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.’