GPC will not rule out industrial action to stop Health Bill

By Susie Sell, 09 June 2011

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman has not ruled out industrial action in the future if the Health Bill is not overhauled.

Dr John Canning

Dr John Canning

Speaking at the 2011 conference of LMCs in London, Dr Buckman said, however, that it would be wrong to ballot the profession on their thoughts on GP commissioning during the listening exercise.

'Balloting the profession is an industrial action word and I think at this stage of the listening exercise it would seem strange. 'We might at some stage want to do something along those lines, but not now. Now is not the time for these things.'

Dr  Buckman was speaking following a debate around the profession's position on the reforms, where calls were made for the GPC to ballot the profession on whether they wanted to join commissioning consortia.

Dr Tim Bland, a GP in Essex, said GPs wanted a say in the national debate as they will be more affected by the reforms than any other group. He said: 'A GP ballot would have four purposes:
It would be a GP insurance policy telling the public now where GPs stand in the event things go wrong in the future. A clear objection could fatally weaken the Bill.

'A strong 'no vote' would increase the profession's negotiating power and a ballot would reaffirm professional self-respect.' But  Dr John Canning, secretary of Cleveland LMC, questioned whether spending thousands of pounds on a ballot would be the best use of money.

He said: 'Is it really the best use of your money to spend it on  a ballot to tell us what we know because there have been surveys already of GPs. Do you really want to spend £50,000 doing this?'

Dr Ivan Camphor from Mid Mersey LMC said:  'The NHS has many problems. We must deal with them and try and solve them. These reforms are a once in generation opportunity for all of us to help transform and rejuvenate the NHS  that we all love and are  passionate about.'

But the motion on balloting the profession was lost. The strand calling for GPs to stop co-operating with the changes was also rejected by the conference. But clauses warning that the Bill would fragment the NHS and compromise the health of the nation were carried.

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