The British Medical Association (BMA) has started balloting GP practices in England on whether they would be willing to take industrial action by collectively closing their patient lists to new patient registrations or apply to their local commissioner for formal list closure as a form of industrial action.
At the Local Medical Committees annual conference in Edinburgh, the decision to ballot practices on a collective closure of lists was made.
The BMA says that the intention is ’to put pressure upon the government to provide the resources necessary to secure the future of general practice and to support it to provide safe patient care’.
The ballot is of GP practices rather than individual GPs, and the BMA recommends partners meet to agree their vote. Although the liability for any decision will rest with the practice partners, the BMA is urging practices to discuss any decisions with salaried and locum GP colleagues working in their practice.
Up to 23,000 GPs in England are taking part in the ballot which could see them collectively suspending all registrations. The mass closure would be a form of industrial action against a suspected lack of Government funding for surgeries.
In a letter to GPs, Dr Richard Vautrey, acting General Practitioners Committee chair urged GPs to take part in the ballot which will close in 10th August 2017.
He said the GPC England has been asked to ballot practices as to whether GPs in England are prepared to collectively close their practice lists. Such action would constitute industrial action, and with significant implications on GPs as independent contractors.
GPC England needs a clear understanding of the views of all GP practices on this issue, he added.
If GP practices vote 'yes' to industrial action in the ballot, GPC will ask the BMA council to review the results and consider a formal ballot.
Visit our blog page daily for more updates on National Health Service and UKs' Healthcare system.