As the controversies over general practice continue to accumulate, a member of the General Practitioners Committee sessional subcommittee has suggested that GPs should consider boycotting out-of-hours sessions.
Dr Preeti Shukla from Lancashire and Cumbria LMC believes that the scandalous costs related to indemnity should provoke this action.
Shukla spoke at the LMC conference in Edinburgh, where the sessional GP indicated her intention to introduce the proposal to General PractitionersCcommittee members next week.
And the GP suggested that around 100 sessional GPs in England have already ceased working out-of-hours due to what she described as prohibitive indemnity costs.
This represents around 25% of the sessional GPs, and Shukla believes that this is satisfactory evidence in order to illustrate that something should be done immediately.
“We are being forced out of our profession anyway, so why don’t we take action? Out-of-hours is voluntary. If we stop identifying ourselves for out-of-hours then we won’t be able to work in the system and the whole system will collapse. We want this to be an eye opener for the DH that if you don’t do anything about indemnity, we will stop working for out-of-hours,” Shukla commented at the conference.
NHS England has already agreed to reimburse the increase in indemnity costs for all GPs for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
And the authorities have also extended the winter indemnity scheme for GPs, which is intended to help cover the costs for those doctors forced to work out-of-hours shifts over the Easter period.
Meanwhile, the Conservative government has already indicated its intention to reimburse any indemnity cost rises.
This is an explicit policy, included in the Conservative manifesto published this week, with the document promising that “appropriate funding for GPs to meet rising costs of indemnity in the short term while working with the profession to introduce a sustainable long-term solution”.
Nonetheless, many doctors remain unconvinced about the sincerity of the government schemes to tackle this rising pressure on general practice finances.