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Focus on industrial action and undated resignation

You will probably have heard a great deal in the trade press this week about the GPC’s decision to continue discussion with NHS England with the aim of achieving “acceptance” of GPC’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice document (attached for info) in addition to full delivery of the GP Forward View (also attached) promises.

You will know that the Annual Conference of LMCs resolved in May that, should the Urgent Prescription not be accepted in full then there would be grounds to trigger a trade dispute and the GPC would issue guidance to the profession in respect of the submission of undated resignations, actions by practices which might constitute legitimate industrial action and a ballot of the profession to ascertain its willingness to take such measures. The full wording of the resolution is:

That conference does not accept the General Practice Forward View is an adequate response to the GPCs statement of need within the BMAs Urgent Prescription for General Practice, and considering this to be sufficient grounds for a trade dispute, unless the government agrees to accept the Urgent Prescription within 3 months of this conference, the GPC should ask the BMA to:

(i) ballot the profession on their willingness to sign undated resignations
(ii) ballot the profession on their willingness to take industrial action
(iii) ballot the profession as to what forms of industrial action they are prepared to take
(iv) produce a report to practices on the options for taking industrial action that doesn’t “breach their contracts”

The view of GPC is that a commitment by NHS England to enter into discussion with GPC over those areas in the Urgent Prescription which are over and above those in the Forward View document is sufficient to satisfy the “acceptance” criterion and that no trade dispute should be triggered. Instead GPC will continue to talk to NHS England but is still considering a consultative survey of the profession in September.

In the meantime GPC has produced the comprehensive guidance document as attached, giving detailed advice on issues such as the sending in of undated resignations; types of industrial action which might potentially be taken should an actual trade dispute be called , the inherent risks of such actions, and also other actions which practices might take within their contracts, particularly around workload management, which would not constitute industrial action. I would urge you to read this document very carefully.

I am sure that many of you will know that I am your regional representative on GPC and also its policy lead on contracts and regulation. As such I take full collective responsibility for GPC actions and decisions and I appreciate the reasoning behind GPC’s decision. I would advise you however, that from an entirely personal perspective, I do not myself believe that the assurances received from NHS England are sufficient to satisfy the conference resolution requirement that the government agrees to accept the Urgent Prescription. Nor do I believe that GPC’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice truly recognises the full extent of the crisis in the profession nor that the measures set out within in, even if all implemented in full, would be sufficient to properly address the dire situation in which general practice now finds itself.

We shall of course see what transpires over the coming months and it may well be that the GPC comes to the decision that, should its current hopes and aspirations fail to materialise, that it will indeed then move to balloting. However do remember that much of the actions detailed in the document can be taken unilaterally by practices in order to help safely manage their workloads, without central co-ordination, though of course the LMC is always here to help and advise. The GPC’s “Quality First “ workload management manual at https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/gp-practices/quality-first also gives a great deal more practical guidance. Were a significant number of practices to take such actions the impact would, I believe, be enormous.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries over the contents of the guidance or of this email . No doubt many of you will have your own views and comments on the current state of play and the LMC would be delighted to hear them.

Click here to download the document "20160280 Responsive Safe and Sustainable Our UPGPFINAL".

Click here to download the document "Focus on IA and undated resignations".

Click here to download the document "General Practice Forward View".

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