GPs to be balloted over 'collective list closure' in GP crisis protest

LMCs have ordered the GPC to ballot the profession over a possible mass closure of GP lists to highlight the crisis facing general practice.

Dr Jackie Applebee: collective list closure
Dr Jackie Applebee: collective list closure

A motion passed by around two thirds of LMC representatives at the LMC conference 2017 in Edinburgh warns that the GP Forward View is 'failing to deliver the resources necessary to sustain general practice'. It calls on the GPC to 'ballot GPs as to whether they would be prepared to collectively close their lists in response to this crisis'.

Tower Hamlets LMC representative Dr Jackie Applebee told the conference: 'Time after time we say the GP Forward View is an inadequate sticking plaster for the GP crisis. We rail against the hoops we have to jump through for tiny little pots of money.

'Let’s stop banging heads against the wall. If the government was listening they’d have increased GP money ages ago.'

Industrial action

She urged the conference to have the courage to take action, asking: 'If not now, when?'

Prime minister Theresa May does not understand the value of general practice, Dr Applebee told LMCs. She pointed to BMA polling showing that four out of five GPs now say their workload is unmanageable, and urged the profession to back collective list closure to manage workload and protect patient services.

'It wouldn’t take the government long to realise our value,' she said. Dr Applebee acknowledged that practices collectively closing their lists would undermine access for some patients in the short term, but warned that in the current climate GPs could not take on more patients safely.

'We need to get patients on our side and explain that we want to provide safe general practice for the whole population but this is not currently possible.

Dr Gerard Reissman said: 'Wehave heard lot of anger at this conference. Parts of the GP Forward View have helped, but it is a drop in the ocean compared with the problems we face. I like this motion. It is about action, which is unusual at this conference.'

NHS cuts

He said that a new Conservative government could impose further NHS cuts, and told LMCs it wouldbe good to 'make clear how angry general practice is'.

GPC negotiator Dr Mark Sanford-Wood pointed out that the GPC did not believe funding promised in the GP Forward View was enough.

But he warned: 'Last year looking at potential industrial action, the BMA took advice on what category this would fall into – in the manner this is proposed, co-ordinated action, it is likely to be a breach of contract and the BMA could be said to be promoting that breach.'

However, Dr Applebee said: 'I don’t think our opponents care what we think. We have told them time and again. This is in the interests of patient safety, our morale and health. I urge you – have courage, if not now, when? Support this.'

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