A major new poll suggests that over 50% of GPs are willing to participate in a mass closure of patient lists.
This would highlight the ongoing crisis in general practice, and illustrates the difficulties being caused by a lack of investment and resources.
When surveyed by GPOnline, 54% of GPs indicated that they would be willing to participate in “plans for GP practices collectively to close their lists”.
This would be intended as a general protest at the crisis facing this critical aspect of the healthcare system, and only 20% indicated that they would be unwilling to do so.
And of the thirty five GP practices who responded to the question, 60% indicated that they would be prepared to take this step; underlining the broad support for this concept.
Already the nursing profession is considering the first strike in its history, as conditions across the NHS system are generally considered less than ideal by healthcare professionals.
“Actively considering this now and may be forced to do this in order to avoid collapsing ourselves under the pressure of weighted list size and shortage of staff,” one partner noted.
This latest indication of the problems in general practice follows close on the back of the LMC conference in Edinburgh, during which a motion was backed calling for the General Practitioners Committee to “ballot GPs as to whether they would be prepared to collectively close their lists”.
It seems increasingly that something must break sooner rather than later, as workers operating within the general practice system are increasingly snowed under by workload and requirements.
And the BMA has backed the calls for a ballot, despite warnings on the matter from the General Practitioners Committee.
The authoritative organisation suggested that collective list closure could be seen as a breach of contract, with a ballot effectively indicating that “the BMA could be seen to be promoting that breach”.
However, it could be suggested that if this procedure takes place on a widespread basis, it would simply become impossible for any such breaches of contract to be seriously acted on.
And some respondents to the GPOnline survey even indicated that they have already closed lists independently.
There was a general consensus of opinion that some form of industrial action is essential.
Both the Royal College of General Practitioners and British Medical Association have called for measures to assist practices, considering the extreme pressure bearing down on the system.
And GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has recently concurred that the workload pressure on practices is currently quite extreme.