‘THE government can’t afford another battle with doctors, so let’s put down a marker,’ Tower Hamlets GP Dr Jackie Applebee urged the BMA Local Medical Committees conference in London yesterday.
She was moving motion S-20 that calls on the BMA ‘to ballot the profession on their willingness to take industrial action’. It was carried overwhelmingly. She declared: ‘We are at a very serious moment. No one wants to take industrial action but today they announced the NHS is £2.6bn in deficit. We must remember Simon Stevens came from United Health.’
Applebee added: ‘We need money right now. Are we going to accept the death of general practice? GP industrial action has never been tendered I ask you to consider it now.’
The motion states that ‘conference does not accept that the General Practice Forward View for GPs is an adequate response to the GPC’s statement of need within the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice’, and this is ‘grounds for a trade dispute’ if the government does not meet BMA requirements for general practice within three months.
West Sussex GP Mandeep Ahluwalia expressed the urgency felt by representatives, saying: ‘We are in trouble now. We need the right staff to do the right job. GP Forward View is not the rescue package we asked for. As others have said if not now – when?’
Dr Gaurav Gupta from Kent complained: ‘We keep saying in months’ time. I have a letter for the GPC saying take action that is necessary, do something now.’
Lincolnshire GP Dr Kieran Sharrock spoke in opposition to clause (i) which asks GPs’ ‘willingness to sign undated resignations’. He said: ‘The feeling of our LMC is the Forward View is not worth the paper it’s written on.
‘They don’t want to resign they want industrial action. We don’t want a solution in five years’ time. By then there’ll be a privatised NHS.’
Shropshire GP Dr Tim Parker said: ‘It was junior doctors in the news yesterday; it’s our time now. Young doctors need ammunition. We need to give it to them. I’m prepared to hand in my resignation.’
Central Lancashire GP Dr Andrew Littler said: ‘I’m fed up with having all the nonsense, all the promises. We don’t need a glimmer of hope we need radical action. GPs are leaving now. We need funding, less hoops to go through, we need industrial action.’
Dr Naom Beer, City and East London, said: ‘We don’t need words and negotiations, we need action. Faint hearts never won a fair future. I support the junior doctors. We do need to give the GPC a mandate. It takes guts to take a risk but if we don’t, general practice will die.’
Supporting industrial action, Lambeth GP Dr Penelope Jarrett said: ‘We need to take a lesson from the junior doctors’ strike. Junior doctors have not lost the support of the public. Junior doctors applied to join the BMA so they could vote for industrial action.’
With the support of GPs Committee Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the conference voted overwhelmingly for all for parts of the motion which also included asking GPs what form of industrial action they would be prepared to take and for the BMA to let practices know what options there are for industrial action ‘that doesn’t breach their contracts’.
l Responding to figures published by NHS Improvement which show hospitals and other NHS trusts in England ‘overspent’ by a record £2.45bn last year, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said: ‘Failure to invest now will result in a disaster in the future both financially and in terms of patient health.’