England’s doctors have decided to strike back against the Government’s plan to improve face-toface appointments.
Eighty-seven percent of doctors indicated that they wouldn’t give data about the patients they treat in person and would not write exemption letters for vaccinations.
The ballot by the British Medical Association (BMA) found nearly nine in 10 said they would be willing not to comply with the contractual requirement for the highest-earning GPs to publish their salaries.
Today, Dr Farah Jamel, who is now the chair of BMA, stated that the results showed that GPs as well as practice staff are ‘frustrated, struggling, and desperate for change.
According to the union, it has yet to determine its next steps or whether industrial action will be taken.
If the industrial action goes ahead, this will be the first strike among doctors since 2005’s junior doctor strike.
The poll of nearly 2,000 GP practices in England was prompted by a £250million package of measures to get patients more in-person consultations with GPs. Sajid Javid proposed a program that would essentially ‘name-and shame’ poor performing surgeries.
In October there were 2 million additional face-to face GP appointments, but they still are a long way from the pre-pandemic level.
This year’s first GP appointment saw fewer than 50% with no doctor present. However, staff such as nurses and pharmacy assistants (physiotherapists) were able to see more patients than the GPs.
Over the past decade, the average amount of sessions that GPs work in one day has fallen while wages have increased. In 2012, the average GP was working 7.3 sessions per week. However, this number has fallen to 6.6 per week. That’s the equivalent to just under three days work each week. In the same period the average GP income went up by more than £6,000. The daily work of a GP is broken down into sessions. A full-time GP typically works 8 sessions per week. Sessions are usually two sessions each day and generally start at 8am and end at 6:30pm. However, these hours may vary.
The Health Secretary’s plan, released in October, outlined that practices could use the extra cash to hire more locums and use other healthcare staff to see more patients in-person.
This plan calls for doctors to visit patients face to face unless they have good reasons to do so. It also requires them to share data from their practices on the number of patients they treat.
BMA stated that doctors will spend less time seeing patients if there is a’shambles’ plan.
The BMA launched an indicative ballot with 5,144 practices across England who have a member GP to establish whether they are ready to follow any of these four steps.
80% of GPs indicated that they will disrupt data shared with NHS Digital about interactions with patients. This was a 35% response rate from the 1,798 responses to the union.
It includes the number of patients seen, how the professionals treat them and the time it takes for a patient to book an appointment.
This would make it impossible for NHS Digital monitor GP appointments activity.
BMA stated that the data was ‘inaccurate’ and did not reflect both total workload nor volume.
According to the BMA, “GPs and their teams need help and understanding about the immense volume, pace, and pressure that they are facing,”
NHS Digital released the latest appointment data today. It showed that 64.4 Percent of GPs saw appointments in October, compared a mere eight percent in pre-pandemic.
84% said that they wouldn’t write letters to patients who require Covid exemption certificates.
The majority of doctors expect that they will be required to compose letters for social service staff. They are expected to remain double-jabbed unless medically excused. From April, the same applies to NHS staff.
87% of doctors said that they are willing to ignore the contract requirement that the highest-earning physicians publish their salary.
The requirement, which was due to come into effect this month but has now been postponed to spring 2022, would force doctors making more than £150,000 per year from the NHS to have their earnings revealed alongside their name.
According to the BMA, this would be of no benefit to patients and their care and can increase aggressiveness towards doctors and damage their morale. It could also affect their ability to retain and recruit GPs.
And 58 per cent said they would be prepared to disengage from a contract — called Primary Care Network Directed Enhanced Service — at the next opt-out period. It outlines certain services patients should receive from doctors.
39% said that they were willing to end the contract prior the expiration of the opt-out periods.
In her first speech as chair of the BMA’s England GP committee, Dr Jameel said: ‘The results showed that GPs and practice staff are frustrated, struggling and are desperate to see change, it is an overwhelming expression of sentiment, a sentiment of discontent and disappointment.
“General practice has been broken and, mark my words: the NHS is going to fail without us. All the principles that we cherish, all the fairness and equality that make the NHS so loved and respected will be lost.