Dear Wandsworth Colleagues,
I know many of you are working way beyond your safe capacity and have been for some time now. I also know that this is not sustainable.
General practice in England is at an ever-increasing risk of collapse, with unsafe volumes of work being expected of an ever diminishing and demoralised profession. To protect patients, GPs and practice staff, something has to change.
The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee England (GPCE) voted to reject the Government’s proposed contract changes for 2023/24 on 1 February 2023. Despite further lobbying and discussions throughout last month, no further compromises were made. These damaging changes will subsequently be imposed on us and will come into force on 1 April 2023.
I recently invited our local GPC Rep Dr Richard van Maellarts to our LMC meeting to discuss the GP contract imposition and ongoing issues within general practice. Dr Van Mellaerts had this to say to GPs in South East London:
“This is the 2nd imposition in a row after entering into negotiations in good faith, and presenting extensive evidence on the pressures in general practice. The imposed changes are nigh on impossible to deliver and not good for patients or practices. GPs are rightly furious and considering how to proceed especially with many parts of the public sector, including junior doctors striking. GPCE are meeting shortly to decide next steps.
“We need greater leverage in advance of the negotiations for next year, which is the end of the current 5 year framework, and practices need to consider what they might be prepared to do. There are many options available to us, and there has been extensive work done within GPCE to generate a variety of plans. Nothing can happen immediately as there is huge planning needed, and there is not currently a united plan of action or even clarity on the outcome everyone wants. We are working hard to clarify these points and present a united and cohesive plan.
“There will be webinars shortly from GPCE officers detailing the contract changes and discussing what next steps we can undertake. These webinars are available to all GPs, not just LMC members.
“GPCE voted to reject these contract changes because:
- The government increased the bureaucratic burden on practices – unnecessary work at a time when patient waits for care are at an all-time high and every moment spent on patient facing care is precious
- They place unachievable arbitrary access targets on practices that, we fear, will likely leave at least some in breach of contract through no fault of their own
- There is no support for practices with huge inflationary and minimum wage pressures, despite hospitals receiving £1.5bn of support for these pressures
“These changes come at a time when practices are providing more appointments with fewer GPs.
“To force Government into meaningful talks, GPCE is considering what further action GPs can take which may include indicative ballots of the profession . We have exhausted all other means of changing the Government’s minds on this and we need the profession to act together now in order to secure meaningful change, though GPCE continue to lobby ministers. It is vital that GPs carefully consider what action they are prepared to take to bring ministers back to the table, as it has reached the point where not acting will lead to increasing patient harm. We will be publishing more updates, briefings and guidance for you in the coming weeks on potential options and answering all your questions.
“GPCE will be continually communicating with all GPs and LMCs in the near future about next steps and progress. In the first instance, please do attend one of the GPCE contract webinars which is open to all GPs, practice managers, and LMC colleagues. You can register here.
“Following a request from GPC England, the BMA funded the establishment of the Alternative Action Working Group, which was been tasked with the exploration and development of potential plans for action by GPs in England. As you know Industrial Action is complicated for GPs so this group has looked at the options which will be inclusive of contractor and non-contractor GPs. This work has been ongoing for the last six months.”
In view of all of this we encourage you to attend one of the contract webinars linked above. We have also discussed having a drop-in session with Dr Van Mellaerts and our SWL LMC Chair colleagues, as we did during the PCN DES rollout and covid-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, it is important to discuss the state of general practice, the imposed 2023/24 contract changes and the importance of constructive change with colleagues, patients, and the LMC as frequently as you can.
All feedback and profession insight will be gratefully received. Informing and sharing concerns about the current contract, as well as hopes for a much-improved contract, will go a long way to protecting general practice and, one day, allowing it to thrive in this country on behalf of patients once again.
Links to BMA resources:
- BMA statement on the contract imposition.
- BMA guidance on the new Contract.
- Most recent GPC Newsletter.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of your current Wandsworth LMC committee for 2022-23:
- Dr Alexander Lai (Chair), Grafton Medical Partners, Nightingale PCN
- Dr Soleman Begg, Begg Practice, Wandsworth PCN
- Dr Penelope Smith/ Dr Shafaat Bari, Grafton Medical Partners, Grafton PCN
- Dr Zahid Ghufoor, Streatham Park, Balham Tooting & Furzedown PCN
- Dr Jeremy Gray, South West Hub 1, Battersea PCN
- Dr Ashleigh Helm, Putneymead Group, West Wandsworth PCN
- Dr Harriet Wheldon, Battersea Rise, Brocklebank PCN
- Dr Harriet Wingate, Bridge Lane Group, Salaried issues
- Dr Jyoti Patel, Wandle PCN & Locum issues
- Samuel Metcalf, Elborough Street, Practice Manager Representative
Please contact any one of us regarding any primary care issues you might want to raise, however we will be continuing the PCN representative relationships, so if you would like you may contact your associated PCN liaison through nhs.net.
Wandsworth LMC committee support details:
The LMC is supported by the following team at Londonwide LMCs:
Dr Asiya Yunus, Medical Director (covers SWL), email@example.com
Nicola Rice, Assistant Director of Primary Care (covers SWL), firstname.lastname@example.org
David Moore, Committee liaison executive (covers SWL), email@example.com
If you have any queries about the Wandsworth Local Medical Committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the LMC office, tel: 02038186247.
Dr Alexander Lai