Majority of GPs back to industrial action in coming year, poll finds

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The survey of 189 partner doctors and salaried general practitioners revealed that 60% supported industrial action. Only 18% rejected the idea and the remaining 22% said they weren’t sure.

Last month, the BMA GP committee voted to intensify discussions within the BMA over industrial action following the award of 4.5% of salaried doctors’ pay. The move came just weeks after the annual meeting of BMA representatives voted to remove GP practices across England from NCPs by 2023, and for the GP committee in England` ‘organize the opposition to the imposition of the new contact, including industrial action if necessary’.

GPonlineThe poll found that of those who supported industrial action, 95% said workload was a reason they were willing to take this step. A total of 93% said stress/burnout was a key reason for supporting advocacy and 84% said funding salaries and GPs was a key issue.

working pressure

The survey also asked what forms of industrial action GPs would be prepared to take. Failure to comply with assessments was supported by 64% of respondents and withdrawal of NCPs was supported by 62%. Three in five GPs (59%) supported closing practice lists and 48% said they would be willing to sign undated resignation letters.

However, the poll also found that some GPs were nervous about industrial action, fearing negative media coverage and effects on the NHS.

One respondent said: ‘As a GP partner it is not possible to strike and any other form of industrial action punishes the patients not the government.’

However, another GP responding to the survey said: ‘These are unprecedented times when doctors who morally and ethically have never taken industrial action. However, we are living in unprecedented times and general practice as a profession is clearly under threat from workload volume, burnout and lack of funding. He’s cooking up the perfect storm.

A GP partner said: “I fully support it and think it’s long overdue.” We are independent contractors and we have to fight for our profession otherwise the situation will only get worse. The government needs us, so we have to be ready to hold on.

Another GP added: ‘I always consider this a last resort but as the role becomes unsustainable I would definitely consider taking action.

industrial action

GPonlineThe inquiry comes as the government faces a fall of discontent in the health service. Young doctors last week said they would vote for industrial action if the government did not commit to paying for restoration by the end of September. The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have both announced plans to vote their members on industrial action.

Last month, BMA chairman Professor Philip Banfield warned action was ‘inevitable’ given the long-term erosion of wages and the growing NHS crisis. He warned: ‘The various groups of doctors we represent will now reflect on their next steps, but it is clear that we are on a collision course with the government, the consequences of which will be the sole responsibility of ministers.’

More than half of GP practices said they were prepared to withdraw PCNs in protest at the lack of government support for the profession, according to a BMA indicative poll in November 2021.

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