The British Medical Assocation’s GP committee has voted to reject the health secretary’s reform plan on face-to-face appointments

doctor hand up

GPs in England have taken a step towards industrial action as part of their escalating conflict with Health Secretary Sajid Javid surrounding government plans to forcibly increase face-to-face appointments. 

The British Medical Association’s (BMA) GP committee voted unanimously on Thursday to reject Javid’s plans to ‘ensure patients can see their GP in the way they want’. At the meeting, the committee encouraged practices not to follow the ‘very worst aspects’  of the plan, including the proposed ‘target-driven league tables to “name and shame” GPs’ who do not see enough patients in person.

The plan was published by NHS England in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Care.

The doctors’ union will now hold a ballot on possible industrial action, which could result in GPs across the UK reducing their work in protest. The BMA insists that this strike would not affect certain services like the annual flu plan and COVID vaccination programme.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GP Committee, commented: ‘GPs have been left with no alternative but to take this action.

‘All efforts to persuade the Government to introduce a workable plan that will bring immediate and longer-term improvement for doctors and their patients have so far come to nought.

‘The Government has completely ignored our requests for a reduction in bureaucracy to allow us to focus more on patient care, and we are therefore encouraging doctors to withdraw from this bureaucracy themselves.

‘The ultimate outcome should be to end the current crisis in general practice, to properly support practices to manage their workload pressure, including safely getting through the backlog of care caused by the pandemic and deliver a safe service to patients, allowing time to create an agreed long-term plan to make general practice sustainable for the future.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: We want patients to be able to see their GP promptly and in the way they choose. Our plan will improve access and drive up face to face appointments, it includes providing a further £250m to GPs in order to boost capacity.’

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