Junior doctors guide to industrial action in England

Striking as a GP registrar

Updated: Friday 16 February 2024

If you are a GP registrar with an NHS employer, you are a junior doctor included in the pay dispute and are encouraged to take part in the strike action.

A full walkout means that you should not see patients on strike days, nor should you perform administrative work (e.g. reviewing bloods tests and other non-patient facing clinical tasks). Our advice is to not attend your practice at all on strike days.

Rotas for GP registrars

There should be no changes to or cancellations of the educational element of your rota during any industrial action. This position is supported by GPC England, who are advising practices not to make any changes to the educational element of GP registrars’ rotas on days of planned action.

Specifically, SDL (self-directed learning) time, educational supervisor sessions, and HDR (half-day release) teaching should not be rescheduled to a time when industrial action is to occur. Conversely, these activities should not be replaced with normal clinical time during periods of industrial action.

The impact of strike action on GP registrars’ education

Following industrial action, clinical and educational supervisors will likely discuss the impact it has had on your education. If there have been any negative impacts, we are suggesting that trainers take a pragmatic approach to providing further educational opportunities at other points during the rotation.

The impact of strike action on RCA exams

The upcoming strike dates (19, 20, 21 and 22 September) are very close to the dates of submission for the RCA exam (26 September). As a result, you may have concerns around securing enough clinical exposure to ensure there is enough time for RCA recordings to be completed.

As such, we are suggesting to practices that they discuss with you any concerns you may have. We recommend that practices take a pragmatic approach to ensuring adequate clinical exposure is achieved alongside undertaking industrial action. Arrangements may include:

  • scheduling extra clinics
  • moving non-RCA focused educational sessions after 26 September
  • intensively identifying patients to add to a GP registrar's clinic list in order to achieve the correct mix of pathology required for the RCA

HDR (Half day release teaching)

GP registrars will have HDR teaching as part of their normal working week. HDR is detailed in the work schedule for GP registrars in England. It is work and as such GP registrars are legally able to take industrial action by not attending HDR teaching if it falls during periods of strike action.

Attending HDR teaching on days of industrial action is, however, a matter of individual choice for GP registrars as it does not undermine the impact of the strike. Be aware that if you do attend your pay may still be impacted as your employer might not accept partial performance. You should also make sure not to agree to any redeployment or clinical work during HDR teaching time.

Reflecting on your experience in your portfolio

It may be beneficial to reflect on your experiences of industrial action in your portfolio and how this action is affecting the healthcare system and the future of GP workforce. This may be utilised to mitigate against any potential impacts to your ARCP as a result of undertaking industrial action.

 

Taking part in strike action as a GP ST3

We understand that for GP registrars who are ST3+ you might question the personal benefit of participating in any industrial action, when you are due to finish training soon and you might not see the direct benefit of any increase in pay. In addition, as you are about to exit training you might be concerned about the impact of undertaking industrial action on your relationship with your GP colleagues and future career options.

If junior doctors succeed in this action, then it will improve our ability to secure improvements for other areas of the health profession. This includes improvements in the working conditions within general practice. Amendments to the pay of doctors are usually backdated to the April of that year, so depending on your date of CCT, you may see the benefits of an increase in pay for GP registrars. The BMA cannot guarantee this will happen.

Read our factsheet for more information.

As ST3+ registrars make up around 50% of all GP registrars in England you are a substantial and vital part of the workforce who have in particular felt the brunt of COVID and the impact of supporting GP practices to work through significant backlogs of patients. It is therefore essential that this significant cohort demonstrates the strength of feeling amongst the profession by participating fully in this industrial action.

GP registrars have the support of the whole of the BMA and the profession

This action by all junior doctors has the support of the whole of the BMA and profession. The GP profession has explicitly demonstrated its complete support of GP registrars undertaking this action at both the national conference for English Local Medical Committees, in November 2022 and the national committee for GPs in England (GPC England) through the passing of resolutions of solidarity. You have the support of the whole general practice, medical and healthcare profession in undertaking this action.