Today, doctors in England were criticized for threatening to strike industrial action because they were ‘asked’ to do the very basics of their jobs. This was amid a growing dispute between the Goverment and GPs.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid published proposals last week to give general practice £250million this winter to offer more in-person appointments and same-day care.

Under the plans, the NHS would publish league tables of how many face-to-face appointments each of the 6,600 surgeries in England offered — effectively ‘naming and shaming’ those that do not offer enough. 

Yesterday’s rejection by the British Medical Association’s England GP Committee was followed by separate rules that would have them overseeing the Covid vaccination exemption process, and requiring the highest-earning doctors to publicly disclose their salaries.

They will hold a ballot — at a yet to be confirmed date — on whether they should take industrial action over the plans by refusing to comply with them.

Although it wouldn’t be a strike, thousands of doctors could see their work reduced at a crucial time before winter.

Although it is not clear how the industrial action will impact patient care, it could result in fewer visits to care homes, more rejections of patients in-person and refusal to issue certificates to people who are medically unaffected by Covid jabs. 

Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute think-tank said that MailOnline workers are usually ‘dismissed when they fail to perform their jobs’ but that GPs deem it outrageous that people want more face–to-face appointments. He stated that being asked to do the most basic tasks of your job does NOT justify striking.

Dennis Reed, the head of the campaign group Silver Voices, called on the Government and doctors alike to ‘get together’ and’sort it out in the best interest of patients’.

This comes as doctors stated this week that they are unable to play a major part in speeding up Covid booster drives’ rollout due to the increased demand for appointments after the lockdown.

GPs 'out-and-out rejected' Sajid Javid's £250million plan to give patients more face-to-face appointments, the British Medical Association claimed today. Pictured left: Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee England chair

Last week the Health Secretary announced plans for patients to have the right to demand a face-to-face appointment with their family doctor

GPs ‘out-and-out rejected’ Sajid Javid’s (pictured, right) £250million plan to give patients more face-to-face appointments, the British Medical Association claimed today. Pictured left: Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee England chair

The average number of sessions GPs works in a day have gone down over the last decade while their wage growth has gone up. In 2012 the average GP worked 7.3 sessions a week but this has now fallen to 6.6 a week, the equivalent of just over three days of work a week. In the same period the average GP income went up by more than £6,000. A GP's daily work is divided into sessions. According to the NHS, a full-time GP works 8 sessions a week, formed of two sessions a day, generally starting at 8am and finishing at 6.30pm, though these hours can var

Over the past decade, the average number of sessions GPs work in a day has declined while their wages have increased. The average GP worked 7.3 hours per week in 2012, but this number has dropped to 6.6 sessions per week, or just over three days of work. In the same period the average GP income went up by more than £6,000. The daily work of a GP is divided into sessions. The NHS states that a full-time GP typically works eight sessions per week. Sessions are usually two sessions per day. However, these hours can vary.

Mr Lesh is the head of research at Adam Smith Institute. He stated that workers are typically fired when they fail to perform their job.

“But somehow GPs find egregious that taxpayers, who are paying for their salaries, demand that they provide face-to–face appointments.

“This is a sign of a wider systematic failure by the NHS to treat patients like customers and not as an inconvenience that has far too many demands.

“It’s absurd that GPs are threatening strike over Government requests to actually visit patients in person.”

Mr Lesh said the structure for incentivising GP practices — which are currently paid based on the number of patients on their lists — should be changed so they are paid per appointment.

MailOnline spoke to Mr Reed, who said that he thought there would be urgent steps by Government to convene an emergency meeting with doctors to sort this out.

He stated, “It’s going be the patients who suffer the collateral damage if the doctors and government have a bitter dispute.” I fear that the patients are being forgotten in all the emotion and hot air.

“The reasonable demand that the number of remote consultations be reduced and the number face-to-face appointments be increased seems to have basically set it off.

“This simple request for an improvement of service to promote such an initiative must have caused a lot more ill will between the doctors’ and the government.”

Reed stated that he would be sympathetic to GPs who threatened strike action due to their desire to increase in-person appointments but lack the resources.

“But they don’t seem to be saying that.” He stated that they seemed to be saying they don’t want to improve access for patients at GPs, which is disappointing and rather sad.

Reed stated that it’s not usual for public service workers to act because they don’t want to improve patient accessibility.

He stated that he would warn against any action that could prevent diagnosis of serious conditions. I don’t think doctors would be willing to do anything that could harm patients.

The number of GP appointments taking place face-to-face tumbled at the start of the pandemic when surgeries were told to see patients remotely where possible. But despite the country largely returning to normal, in-person visits are yet to climb back to pre-pandemic levels. The above graph shows the number of face-to-face GP appointments (red line) by month since the end of 2019

When the pandemic began, the number of GP appointments that took place face-to–face dropped. This was because doctors were instructed to see patients remotely. Despite the country returning to normal, in person visits have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The graph above shows the number face-to-face GP visits (red line) since the beginning of 2019.

Mr Reed stated that it would be a ‘type of armageddon industrial reaction’ and ‘outrageous’ for GPs to reduce their visits at care homes as these residents are the most vulnerable and fragmented in society.

The Health Secretary’s plans — which triggered outrage among doctors — included extra funding for surgeries to boost their capacity for face-to-face appointments.

Before the pandemic nearly eight out of ten appointments were face-toface. In August, however, only 58% of these appointments took place in person. 

The cash would go towards using locums and other health staff — such as physiotherapists and podiatrists — to increase same-day care.

To ‘enhance transparency, accountability, and transparency’, the NHS will publish a league list of how many in-person consultations each practice has per month.

Doctors accuse No10 ‘wilful negligence’ for ruling out WFH and masks 

Doctors have accused government of ‘wilful neglect’ for failing to reimpose face masks or WFH guidance despite warnings Covid cases could reach 100,000 per day in just weeks.

High-profile scientists, trade union leaders, and NHS bosses called on the country to adopt a more aggressive stance on coronavirus restrictions in light of rising infection rates and slow booster vaccine rollout. 

But in a Downing Street press conference Health Secretary Sajid Javid held his nerve and insisted the pressure on hospitals was not yet ‘unsustainable’, in comments that angered health chiefs who warn the NHS is already starting to creak under the pressure of Covid, flu and backlogs caused by the pandemic.

Edward Agar, Health Minister, said this morning that the NHS was under “sustainable pressure at the moment” and that the current plan was “still working”.

The Government has been accused, however, of sleepingwalking into another crisis. They also failed to heed Sir Patrick Vallance’s warning that ministers must go hard and get early’ with coronavirus restriction this winter in case of a spike in cases.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the British Medical Association chief, said last night: ‘It is wilfully negligent of the Westminster Government not to be taking any further action to reduce the spread of infection, such as mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing and ventilation requirements in high-risk settings, particularly indoor crowded spaces. 

“The Westminster Government stated it would implement ‘Plan B’ in order to stop the NHS being overwhelmed. We, doctors on the frontline can affirm that the time is now.

According to the Health Secretary, we could soon see 100,000 cases per day. We now have the same number weekly Covid deaths that we had during March when the country was locked down. It is extremely concerning that he refuses to immediately take action to save lives or protect the NHS. 

The England GP Committee of the BMA rebuffed the proposals as they ‘fundamentally failed’ to address the continuing crisis in general practice. It stated that it is. “Outraged by the deliberate and relentless denigrations made of GPs” 

The committee claimed that the Health Secretary did not consider the expertise and experience provided by family doctors when creating the plan and that patient care would suffer as a consequence.

They urged surgeries not to implement the plans and to halt efforts to recruit additional staff to increase in-person appointments.

The committee will vote soon on whether to take industrial action against the plans and also the move to publish details about the highest-earning GPs.

The requirement, due to come into effect next month, would force doctors making more than £150,000 per year from the NHS to have their earnings revealed alongside their name.

The BMA stated that this was not in the best interests of patients or their care. It could increase aggression towards doctors, decrease morale, and impair their ability to retain and recruit GPs.

If industrial action continues, doctors would have to stop writing letters to people asking them to medically exempt themselves from Covid jabs.

Doctors believe they will be primarily responsible for writing letters to social care staff. They are required to double-jabbed beginning next month in order to remain at their job, unless exempted by medical reasons.

The BMA urged ministers and GPs to come together to negotiate a new contract for general practice that will give them more money, a safer workload, less bureaucracy, improved working conditions, and lower costs.

Dr Richard Vautrey (chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee) stated: “GPs have been left without an alternative but to take these actions.”

“All efforts to persuade government to introduce a viable plan that will bring immediate, and longer-term improvements for doctors as well as their patients, have failed to produce any results.

“The Government has completely ignored our requests to reduce bureaucracy in order to allow us more focus on patient care. We are encouraging doctors to leave this bureaucracy.”

“The ultimate outcome should end the current crisis of general practice, to properly support practices in managing their workload pressure, including safe getting through the backlog caused by the pandemic, and deliver a safe service for patients, allowing time for a long-term plan to make general practise sustainable for the future.

Daisy Cooper, a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for health, stated that this shows that the Government’s provocative plans to name-and-shame GPs has backfired.

“Sajid Javid must now reduce the rhetoric and reach out to doctors and patient groups in order to find a way forward.

“It would not be forgivable if, at the start of a winter crisis that people are unable or unwilling to access their local GP.

A spokesperson for Department of Health stated that doctors have done extraordinary work during the most difficult 18 months of living memory. 

“We want patients to be able see their GP quickly and in the way that suits them best. Our plan will improve access and drive up face to face appointments – it includes providing a further £250 million to GPs in order to boost capacity.

“We are also cutting bureaucracy, and GP teams will receive targeted support which will relieve pressure on staff and allow them to spend their time with patients.

“The number and quality of full-time equivalent doctors in general practices increased between March 2016 & March 2021. Last year, a record breaking number of doctors trained as GPs.