GP elected as Labour MP rejects call for industrial action

A GP newly elected as a Labour MP has said he will oppose calls for the profession to close practice lists under industrial action proposed by the BMA.

GP Dr Paul Williams is Labour MP for Stockton South (Photo: Labour)
GP Dr Paul Williams is Labour MP for Stockton South (Photo: Labour)

Labour’s Dr Paul Williams was last week elected by his colleagues to sit on the influential House of Commons health select committee chaired by former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Speaking exclusively to GPonline in his first interview since his election last month, Dr Williams said he would not support proposals to close practice lists to patients in protest at the failures of the GP Forward View.

Practices are being asked by the BMA in an indicative ballot whether they are prepared temporarily to suspend new patient registrations or apply to their local commissioner for formal list closure as a form of industrial action.

GP industrial action

The decision to ballot the profession was agreed by LMC representatives at their annual conference in Edinburgh in May in response to what they say is the failure of NHS England's GP Forward View to deliver the resources necessary to sustain services.

Last week GPonline revealed that some GPC members were backing the plan as the best way to cause ‘maximum disruption for government’, but ‘minimal harm to patients’.

Dr Williams, who has also been serving as chief executive of his local GP federation, said: ‘I don’t support closing lists to patients and my practice will be indicating that we wouldn’t support proposed industrial action.’

The MP for Stockton South, who intends to continue working enough GP sessions to keep his licence, said that while there ‘isn't a lot wrong with the [GP Forward View]’, the resources promised ‘haven't always found their way into the bits of general practice that people hoped they would’.

General practice at scale

‘I think there's a tension between whether or not the resources are used to create sustainable change or whether or not they're used to prop up the existing model of general practice,’ he said.

‘I would probably come down more on the side of GPs that want to use the investment in the Five Year Forward View to prepare general practice for the future. And therefore that means using the investments to improve at-scale provision.’

During industrial action last year junior doctors were supported on protests and picket lines by Labour MPs including leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell. The party’s shadow health secretary at the time Heidi Alexander supported the juniors’ campaign but refused to back the strikes.

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