Special LMCs conference: Mass GP contract resignation looms as GPC told to canvass profession

GPs across England will be asked to consider handing in undated letters resigning their contracts in a bid to force the government to deliver a rescue package for general practice within the next six months.

GPs at the special LMCs conference - held in London on 30 January to debate the GP crisis - backed a motion calling on the GPC to canvass the profession on their willingness to submit undated resignations.

The GPC will also consider a ballot on work practices should give up to ensure safe and sustainable care for patients, and to explore actions the profession can take without breaching their contracts.

In the strongest call for government to support general practice from LMCs in years, GPs voted heavily in favour of the call for the profession to be asked about handing in undated resignations if a bailout package for general practice cannot be secured within six months.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul spoke to the conference in support of the motion: 'What we have now is a risk to our own health.' He said that every day he worries about what he may have missed. 'Let's collectively do what we can to safeguard our lives and our patients. I am very happy for this motion to be supported.'

Buckinghamshire GP Dr James Murphy told the conference: 'I stand before you, eyes opened to the truth of what it is to be a GP today. It ain’t pretty. Hope is fading fast. We are lurching from crisis to crisis with only sticking plaster solutions. Practice incomes are plummeting, recruitment and retention of staff are a nightmare. Long hours are taking their toll - I am getting fat and going grey.

Special LMCs conference: full coverage

'As Chaand said earlier - our patients are being short changed. Enough is enough. We are fighting for our survival - if we fail will we be able to look our patients, our children in the eye?

'This will send the message to the government we can no longer wait politely cap in hand. It's saying to Jeremy Hunt and to our patients - we can’t go on like this. I am very aware of the seriousness of this motion, but it is because things have got so bad that I find my self, heartbroken two years after qualification, supporting this motion.'

London GP Dr Naomi Beer - whose Jubilee Street practice was at the heart of the Save our Surgeries campaign to protect practices hit by MPIG cuts - told the conference it was time to give the GPC 'something with teeth' to protect the profession.

'I want you to vote for this unanimously to send a strong message to this deaf, blind government that GPs will not be party to this death by 1,000 cuts any more. How much longer will we allow Mr Jeremy Hunt to make us dance to his tune?

GP crisis

'We absolutely have to act now - the whole system is about to collapse. But right now I see a health secretary and prime minister who are totally out of touch with the reality we face on the ground every day. A government prepared to twist statistics to promote their ideologies - happy to pour money into non-evidence based plans.

'We have nothing to lose - they are killing us anyway. No more games. This is our opportunity to make a very big noise indeed. Threatening to resign is not giving up, it is saying we will not be party to this destruction any more.'

A handful of GPs spoke against the motion, in some cases simply to warn it wasn't strong enough. One who had submitted a paper to speak against the motion changed his mind before he got to the podium.

Among those who spoke against was Devon GP Dr Anthony O'Brien. He said: 'There is no point canvassing unless you are going to get a vote in favour. Mass GP action would need mass GP support. If the BMA GPC truly believes it has a polished PR machine that can persuade GPs to engage in action, that begs the question what are these PR wizards doing at the moment?

'The media are ignoring their message. We need solutions, and this won’t work, people won’t sign up. A prolonged media campaign could be a solution.'

But Dr Humberside GP Dr Zoe Norris told GPs they should follow the example of junior doctors who took strike action earlier this year.

'This is our mandate to the GPC - we don't need a ballot for industrial action. If we support this, the GPC can go into negotiations and say you either give us what we need or we ballot our profession on this.'

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