The DH launched a 12-week consultation today on its proposals for the GP contract, which include GPs having to work harder to retain current pay.
It is also proposing that any new funding for practices in 2013/14 will be 'targeted towards those with less current funding per patient'.
BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand said if the proposals went through the government would face a ‘recruitment and workforce crisis’ which would compromise patient care.
‘If you reduce money to primary care then GPs will have to cut costs somehow,’ he said. ‘Everyday the workload is rising and so are expectations.
‘The consequences of these GP contract changes will be a recruitment and workforce crisis and compromise in access for patients.
‘The GPC will want to sit down with the government. It will want to convey that this policy will end in tears for everybody.’
When asked about the possibility of industrial action, he said: ‘The next step is that we will want to go back to the table. The GPC is in a constructive mode. It doesn’t want another workforce crisis to loom.’
GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said: ‘I hope that the government will listen. I have faith in the negotiators. [Whether the government will listen] is uncertain at this moment. We are working 13 or 14-hour days. People are tired and demoralised. I am really concerned about my GP colleagues. This will be the last straw and they will retire early and pack up. To have some sort of unplanned mass walkout would be very sad.’
When asked if the proposals would lead to industrial action, Dr McKeown said: ‘I will leave it to the negotiators to get on with the job.’
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter warned that industrial action was one of the options the GPC could take if the government continued to act in a ‘cavalier manner’ over contract changes, in an interview with GP last month.