Several prominent GP leaders have thrown their weight behind the proposed industrial action that is currently being balloted on by the British Medical Association.
A letter is currently being circulated among general practitioners, which argues that this approach is “the best choice to cause maximum disruption for government, but minimal harm to patients”.
BMA deputy chair Dr David Wrigley, chair of BMA London regional council Dr Gary Marlowe, GPC members Dr Jackie Applebee, Dr Louise Irvine, Dr Stephanie deGiorgio, Dr Zoe Norris, GP Survival chair Dr Matt Mayer, and LMC representative Dr Susie Bayley have all signed the letter in question.
The indicative ballot currently being undertaken by the BMA questions practices on whether they would be prepared to temporarily suspended new patient registrations or apply to local commissioners for formal list closure.
This industrial action is intended to heap pressure on the government, at the time when there is a huge amount of discontent and discourse regarding the climate of general practice.
LMC representatives agreed the measure at the annual conference in Edinburgh.
And it is particularly deemed to be a response to what is considered to be a fundamental failure of NHS England’s GP Forward View to deliver adequate resources to frontline services.
With the ballot closing on 10th August, the GPC will ask the BMA council to review the results and consider a formal ballot on the subject.
This new conflict is just the latest in a series of industrial action that has been carried out by healthcare professionals in response to government policy.
Advice published by GPC last week alongside voting instructions warned that practices could face breach notices if any action is deemed a breach of contract.
But the letter advises that list closures can be allowed under the terms of the existing contract if they are carried out on the grounds of patient safety.
“Any action by medical professionals is only done with a heavy heart. In advising practices to consider list closure, our representatives are clear that this is a way of causing maximum disruption to the government’s plans for the NHS, registering our disdain at their failure to adequately fund general practice, whilst causing no harm to our registered patients,” the letter argues.
They text of the letter goes on to encourage GPs to ask patients to provide support for the action with petitions and letters to MPs.
“Our patients are the strongest weapon we have in fighting for general practice. Tell them what you are doing and why,’ it says. It adds that the risk to patients is greater if GPs do not take action to stop the collapse of the service. ‘If this list closure happens nationwide however it causes a significant increase in workload for NHS England, as well as public embarrassment to the government”.