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GP strikes could be on the cards after doctors oppose government contract

GPs may be forced to go on strike, a leading medic said today after family doctors overwhelmingly opposed a new government contract that threatens to bankrupt practices.

According to the British Medical Association, almost two in three practices report concerns over short and long-term financial viability, while more than half have experienced cashflow issues in the last year.

The new contract offers practices a 1.9 per cent increase in funding, but the BMA says it's not enough to stop them from cutting services or shutting down.

In a vote held by the doctors’ union, 99 per cent of 19,000 GPs rejected the new contract.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the BMA England GP committee, told LBC radio that the referendum was a “damning indictment on what the government is offering us to look after our patients.”

He said: “This contract imposition has led to a reduction in funding and just not giving us the resources we need to look after our patients.

“This is why we’re now saying the government needs to get back around the table, talk to us, free up this contract and allow us to look after our patients properly.”

When asked about industrial action, he said: “Like our junior doctor colleagues and consultants, we’d never want to go on strike … [but] it would be naive to think it’s not on the table.”

A GP Online poll of 391 family doctors found that 72 per cent would be in favour of strikes.

Doctors cited concerns over workloads, patient safety and funding.

Dr Wrigley also condemned the government’s £1.4 billion Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, which aims to boost GP practice staff through recruiting physician associates and pharmacists.

He said: “We now have GP unemployment — colleagues who want to look after patients can’t find work because the government just say: ‘No, you can’t employ GPs.’

“We’re even seeing some GPs having to do other work such as Uber driving or just leaving the profession, walking away, because there is no work available.

“GPs around the country are frustrated. They’re angry and they’re upset.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said it was “disappointing” that the BMA was considering industrial action and claimed that the new contract would “reduce unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy.”


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