GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that although the GPC was due to discuss next steps on the GP contract, it did not discuss industrial action over proposed changes on Thursday.
Dr Buckman said: ‘I don’t know where anyone got the impression that we were going to discuss industrial action. It was not on the agenda, I didn’t have to take it off and nobody suggested it even in the margins of the meeting.
‘Earl Howe has pronounced that he hopes we take patients into account. Well, funny that, yes we will.’
Asked if the GPC had ruled out industrial action, Dr Buckman said: ‘No I did not say that. I said we did not consider industrial action. We have not considered strikes and I don’t believe they will be on the agenda. GPs take industrial action extremely reluctantly and I think the prospect of a [genuine] strike for any purpose, I don’t believe that will be on any agenda ever.’
He said the GPC's choice of action would be determined by the precise detail of what the government plans to impose. The GPC is expecting more detail in the next week or so.
Dr Buckman said GPC members had discussed the impact of the contract changes. ‘There was a lot of consideration around workload saturation, morale, the fact that some practices are under threat and the fact that patients potentially will get less access to services. And if the changes to QOF go ahead the way the government proposes, which they may not, but if they do there is a risk that patients will be adversely affected by some of the changes.'
A DH spokeswomen said the department would be releasing more detail on contract changes shortly. She said a consultation on the changes was due to start at the same time.