BMA GP leaders condemn 'derisory' pay award and step up industrial action plans

GP leaders have condemned the 'derisory' 4.5% pay award for salaried doctors and voted to step up talks within the BMA over industrial action.

BMA House entrance

A meeting of the BMA GP committee on 21 July voted to condemn the pay award announced this week - which falls far short of inflation and has been awarded with no additional funding to cover increased costs for practices.

The committee also backed plans to step up talks with the BMA council over possible industrial action by GP practices across England.

The meeting - described as 'angry' by one source - comes just weeks after the BMA annual representative meeting voted for the withdrawal of GP practices across England from primary care networks (PCNs) by 2023, and for the GP committee in England to 'organise opposition to the imposition of the new contact including industrial action if necessary'.

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BMA England GP committee deputy chair Dr Richard Van Mellaerts said: 'For GPs who have spent the last two years pulling out all the stops to continue caring for their communities - often to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing - only to be left repeatedly unsupported and publicly admonished by the government and policymakers, this week’s announcement only sought to demoralise and devalue GPs further when they were already down.

'To put it bluntly, the 4.5% "pay rise" was nothing of the sort, amounting to the wages of hardworking staff being cut by more than 6% in real-terms. Meanwhile, the government has wilfully ignored the pay body’s recommendation to give GPs who run practices any extra funding, meaning they have no means to meet even this small uplift for staff nor to pay for rocketing practice expenses.

'With inflation pressures set to reach 11% something has to give, without understanding and support from government, practices will fold and patients will have no access to the care that they need.'

GPonline reported this week that the unfunded pay rise would leave GP practice facing a £40,000 loss on average if they deliver the recommended increase to staff.

Industrial action

GP leaders this week welcomed a hardening of the BMA's stance over industrial action after the association's newly-elected chair Professor Philip Banfield said action was 'inevitable' given long-term erosion of pay and a growing NHS crisis.

Meanwhile, junior doctors said they had been left with 'no choice but to press ahead with preparations for a ballot for industrial action' - calling the government's decision to deny them a pay rise in line with other doctors a 'betrayal'.

Junior doctors have not been included in the 4.5% pay rise awarded for doctors in 2022/23 because they are subject to a multi-year pay deal that delivers a fixed 2% rise per year.

More than half of GP practices were prepared to pull out PCNs in protest over a lack of government support for the profession, according to an indicative ballot by the BMA in November 2021.

Pay award

NHS England's decision to impose changes to the 2022/23 GP contract earlier this year led to further calls for industrial action - and the 'insulting' pay award announced this week appears to have brought the prospect of action closer still.

Responding to the pay award on 19 July, Professor Banfield called it a 'brutal pay cut that will come as a bitter blow for doctors across England'

He warned: 'The different groups of doctors we represent will now consider their next steps but it is clear that we are on a collision course with the government, the consequences of which will be the responsibility of ministers alone.'

Motion passed by GP committee:

That this committee rejects the derisory and divisive pay award for 2022/23 announced by the government, and gives the GP committee England executive team the mandate to immediately escalate discussions with BMA Council with a view to potential collective/industrial action on behalf of all GPs across England.

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