Although the MPU balloted its members as part of the public sector union Unite, the GP’s union has now revealed that it would be illegal for GPs to take action as planned on 30 November.
MPU chairman Dr Ron Singer said that the union has made the decision not to call GPs out for industrial action, following legal clarification gained by the union.
Practices that had intended to only provide duty doctor services as a form of industrial action on the TUC’s day of action on 30 November will now not legally be able to do so.
Dr Singer said that problems had arisen because legally GP practices were considered as separate entities – due to their status as independent contractors.
Every practice should therefore have issued its own ‘intention to strike’ notice to its employer - the PCT - before it could take any form of action.
However this has not happened and consequently practices will not legally be able to strike.
Dr Singer said it was the large number of GPs expressing their desire to take part in industrial action which prompted the union to look into the legality in the first place.
He said that although GPs would no longer be able to take part on 30 November officially, they could still decide, at practice level, to show their support.
‘GPs are an innovative group, I am sure they will think of ways to show their support within the law,' he said.
Dr Singer added that practices would be able to alter their service provision on the ‘day of action’ as a response to an anticipated increase in workload created by public sector workers requiring sick notes to cover their absence on 30 November.