LMCs to urge GPC not to back industrial action

LMC representatives will advise GPC leaders not to take direct action when they attend a special planned meeting over the GMS pay freeze in London.

The meeting, due as GP went to press, will bring together LMC secretaries and members of the GPC. Around 200 people were expected to be present.

The event was intended to allow LMCs to air their views over recent developments.

The most pressing item for discussion is expected to be the pay freeze, which has effectively cut GP incomes.

Most LMC leaders are advising against any action that could harm patients and that might destroy public sympathy.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of the Essex LMCs, said: ‘The pay freeze should be regarded as just one battle in a longer war. There is a lot of anger, but we should not be calling for industrial action.’

LMCs said their anger was directed against the government and not the GPC itself.

Dr Tony Stanton, joint chief executive of London LMCs, said that action by individual practices, rather than some kind of joint action, was the best way forward.

 ‘It will be up to individual practices to restrict their activities,’ he said.

Some LMCs are advising practices to drop areas of work. Birmingham LMC, after a meeting last week, voted in favour of boycotting Choose and Book, national care records and practice-based commissioning. It is also asking GPs to consider closing their lists if they have trouble managing their patient workload.

Many LMCs also expressed anger at the negative image of the profession, which was being put forward by the government and the mainstream media.

Dr Stanton said that GPs were upset by the ‘barrage of propaganda’ directed against them.

Dr Balmer echoed this view. ‘There’s a media campaign to tell people that we’re lazy and rich: it’s getting on our nerves,’ he said.

He added that the GPC would be asked to correct that view.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of the Wessex LMCs, said GPs should take a pragmatic approach and reject work that is not adequately remunerated.

Dr George Rae secretary of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC suggested the meeting might be therapeutic for the profession.

‘GPs are upset. I think this meeting will be very helpful,’ he said.

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