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Medics calling for industrial action at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Brighton urged colleagues to channel their “inner Mick Lynch”, in reference to the RMT rail union leader. Attendees then voted for BMA leaders to oppose the contract, “including industrial action if necessary”.
Dr Jackie Applebee, a GP from Tower Hamlets in London, proposed the overall motion and said it was necessary to protect the GP contract from “vultures”.
She said: “We can’t trust this Government to protect general practice or indeed the wider NHS.
“They’ve been in power for 12 years but things are only getting worse.”
To cheers and applause, she said GPs should of course be held accountable for any shift in funding and “should not be able to pare services back to the minimum so that we can pop into the local Porsche showroom”.
She added: “I know some of you will be worried about industrial action but how much more can we take?
“We should take our lead from the RMT – they have quite rightly said ‘enough is enough, no more pay erosion, no more safety cuts’.”
NHS England announced changes to the 2022/23 GP contract in March.
These included a requirement for surgeries to make a quarter of appointments available for online booking and to extend opening hours.
The changes mean GPs need to offer appointments from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, as well as until 8pm on weekdays.
BMA members already voted in favour of industrial action last November in an indicative ballot.
Strikes will only go ahead if more than 50 percent of eligible GP members vote in favour during a further ballot.
Although GPs would be unlikely to withhold emergency care, they could stop routine work and cut their hours.
Medics also voted in favour of a motion calling on the BMA to pull GP practices out of primary care networks by 2023.
The networks involve groups of GP practices working with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas.
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