GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul announced that the ballot will not go ahead after welcoming NHS England’s decision to ‘take forward proposals’ laid out in the Urgent Prescription for General Practice.
He added that it will instead run a survey in September asking members for their views on its future negotiations with the government.
LMCs voted overwhelmingly at their annual conference in May that the GPC should ballot the profession on their willingness to hand in their contracts en masse or stage industrial action if NHS England did not accept all the proposals laid out in the plan.
In a letter to Dr Nagpaul, NHS England said it ‘accepted the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice as a good basis for further discussion and work on supporting general practice pressures’.
But it added that the proposals ‘need greater detail’, and suggested these should be discussed at the next LMC reference group.
GP strike ballot cancelled
The announcement comes on the eve of the three-month deadline the GPC gave NHS England to accept the changes.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The BMA’s GP committee has made the critical state of crisis in general practice in England absolutely clear to the government.
‘In response to the calls from the BMA, NHS England has accepted taking forward our proposals to alleviate the unsustainable pressures on practices.
‘Crucially, NHS England has recognised that GPs need to work within manageable workload limits to ensure safe and quality patient care. The BMA will now be meeting NHS England to develop these proposals further, as well as putting pressure on NHS England to deliver on promises made in its General Practice Forward View plans, so that urgent support is delivered to frontline GP services.
‘The BMA’s GP committee will also be proceeding with a survey of the profession in September, to ensure that the profession’s priorities and views are properly taken on board when we continue our negotiations in the future.
‘While the BMA is not proceeding with a ballot of the willingness of the profession to take action, we will review progress on tangible improvements to GP pressures, and consider any measures as necessary to enable GPs to provide safe quality care for patients.’
In the letter to the GPC, Rosamond Roughton, director of NHS commissioning, said: ‘As previously outlined, NHS England accepts the BMA’s Urgent Prescription as a good basis for further discussion and work on supporting general practice pressures, also noting that some of the proposals need greater detail.
‘We have continued to discuss the areas that are included in the Urgent Prescription but not in the GP Forward View, set out in your Annex 2 which you shared with me. I would like to suggest that we discuss formally each of these 15 areas at the next LMC Reference Group so that we can consider and agree how each should be taken forward.
‘I also suggest that relevant Urgent Prescription proposals are considered at the newly formed Primary-Secondary care Interface group, in which GPC will play a key role.’