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If you care about your profession, then damn well do


something about it Dr Alex Freeman


LMC leaders at the conference lined


up to speak in support of the motion, saying it would give the GPC ‘the arsenal it needs for the battles ahead’. In a particularly impassioned speech,


member of Hertfordshire LMC Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said: ‘This motion allows time to deploy our nuclear deterrent without actually letting it off. This is the headline to launch the campaign. Hold your noses and vote “yes”. Send a lightning bolt to NHS England. ‘It is not safe, and it is not fair and it is not just for juniors – because this is a state of emergency. So, conference, if not now, when?’ Dr Alex Freeman, a member of Hampshire and Isle of Wight LMC, told delegates they needed to take this chance: ‘Don’t just sit there and say “patients will suffer”. If you care about your profession, then damn well do something about it.’


‘Ultimatum’


The GPC has told Pulse the vote has given them a ‘mandate’ to go to the Government and ask for better support for GPs. Dr Nagpaul said: ‘This motion has told


the Government that the time for talking is over and the time for delivery has begun. It has very much put the ball in the Government’s court to put together a rescue plan – and they have a six- month ultimatum.


‘The profession has shown it needs a tangible commitment from the Government that it is going to revive general practice.’


The GPC chair added that the BMA


would be looking closely at the technicalities of undated resignations and the precedents for such a move: ‘This has not been done for a long time, and we will need to look at what that means. There is a process and we need to see how that will take place.


‘Mass resignation is not a theory – the


Government knows four out of 10 GPs would be willing to quit.


A day of high drama


There was only one motion on people’s lips at the Special LMC Conference. But it was not certain to pass. The motion calling for mass


resignation was watered down at the last minute, so the GPC has to ‘canvas support’ for the move in six months’ time rather than ‘request’ it. At the start of the conference, the GPC’s Dr John Canning stood up and launched a failed bid to bin the whole agenda, saying it was ‘not up to the job’. As I sounded out delegates, there


was a mixed response to the idea of calling for mass resignation. But as the debate started, the atmosphere in the room changed. Young Buckinghamshire GP Dr James Murphy proposed the motion with a simple plea: ‘We can’t go on like this’.


Emotional Many LMC leaders were near to tears. A patently furious Dr Katie Bramall- Stainer, revealed she’d just had a meeting with her partners about the future of their Hertfordshire practice, and demanded: ‘If not now, when?’ But the zenith came when


conference favourite Dr Fay Wilson came on stage, proclaiming: ‘The nicely, nicely campaign is not working’. She addressed the old guard directly,


telling them to back this call for the sake of the younger generation: ‘Do it for James and his kids. Do it for Katie.’ Older colleagues shifted in their seats. There was a moment of silence as it


was carried before delegates rose to their feet cheering, relieved they had something concrete to take back to local GPs. And in a day long on moving speeches, but short on new policy, it felt like a major breakthrough.


Nigel Praties is editor of Pulse


We have to act now, they are killing us anyway Dr Naomi Beer


‘The Government must now


understand that failure to rescue general practice will have consequences, and that is what leverage this motion gives us.’ Although GPs in the devolved nations are also facing battles over GP funding, the threat of resignation is likely to be mostly directed at NHS England and the DH in Whitehall.


NHS England announced late last year that the budget for general practice will increase by 4.2% next year, to £7.65bn, and by at least 4-5% every year in order to hit £9.19bn in 2021. This adds up to a 25% increase on current spending.


‘Weak’ motion But some GPs say this is not enough, arguing the motion voted through at the Special LMC Conference should have been stronger in order to force a major change in conditions. Family Doctor Association chair Dr


Peter Swinyard said: ‘We need that option to say “no, we’ve had enough” and I think that the option they were given on mass resignation was rather on the weak side.’ And former BMA and RCGP Council


member Dr Una Coales said the final result of the conference was ‘Jeremy Hunt 1 GPs 0’.


Dr Coales added: ‘Voting to canvass GPs on mass resignation in six months’ time is akin to taking a survey. It has no legal clout. It is a sad day for traditional general practice.’ But others welcomed the vote. Dr Eleanor Scott, a medical director at Londonwide LMCs, told Pulse she was heartened by the vote: ‘It is the best hope I’ve had in 20 years.’


Dr Kamal Sidhu, a GP in County Durham and a member of County Durham and Darlington LMC, said: ‘I think something very productive has come out of this meeting. Now I feel more confident that we can become safe in the longer term.’ The last time GPs were invited by


Pulse February 2016 9 ►


CHARLES MILLIGAN


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