GPs threaten to strike over NHS contract times

Doctors have threatened to scrap new contracts that force practices to open on Saturdays and weekends

GPs have threatened to scrap plans to have her work Saturdays and evenings.

British Medical Association (BMA) doctors have vowed to act if a new NHS contract that forces them to offer evening and weekend appointments is not scrapped.

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GPs have threatened to go on strike over plans to make them work Saturdays and evenings (Picture: Getty Images)

Medical officials urged BMA leaders to “organise” opposition to the contract, “including industrial action where appropriate,” at the annual conference in Brighton on Tuesday (June 28).

Overall, 57% of members supported industrial action, with 26% abstaining and 17% voting against.

Other parts of the motion were also passed, including asking the BMA to organize the withdrawal of GP practices from Primary Care Networks (PCNs) by 2023, with 61% voting in favour.

PCNs comprise groups of primary care practices that work with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and volunteer services in their local areas.

Some primary care physicians claim that PCNs dilute the quality of patient care, arguing they are a “Trojan horse” undermining primary care.

They say the PCN funding should be part of the core GP deal instead.

What changes are there to the contract?

NHS England announced changes to the 2022/23 GP contract in March, saying doctors must make at least 25% of appointments available for online booking and opening hours must be extended.

The changes mean GPs will offer appointments from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and must stay open until 8pm on weekdays.

The BMA criticized the contract, saying NHS England has refused to offer reimbursement for the practices to cover additional costs of social security contributions, which will result in staff cuts.

BMA members voted in favor of industrial action in a runoff last November.

dr Jackie Applebee, a general practitioner at Tower Hamlets in London who proposed the bulk proposal, said there was a need to protect the existing contract from “vultures” and PCNs should “be scrapped along with all the boxes”.

She said: “We cannot trust this Government to protect GPs or the NHS as a whole.

“They’ve been in power for 12 years, but things just keep getting worse.”

Ms Applebee said GPs should be held accountable for every shift funding and “shouldn’t be able to reduce services to a minimum so we can get into the local Porsche showroom”.

She added: “I know some of you will be concerned about industrial action, but how much more can we take? We should be guided by the RMT – they rightly said, “enough is enough, no more pay cuts, no more security cuts.”

She said “solidarity with them” and urged medics to channel their “inner Mick Lynch” regarding the RMT leader.

dr Reshma Syed, GP partner from Kent, said: “Make no mistake, GPs are fighting a war for their very existence.

“Primary Care Network was a Trojan horse introduced by the government, a ploy designed to mislead us into depriving core general practice practice of funding and distracting our attention from quality patient care.

“PCN is just the beginning of dismembering general practice, piece by piece. They (the government) are working to destroy the GMS treaty and independent treaty status as we know it.

“They want to create distrust in our patients and destroy this unique relationship.

“They want to invest in every other healthcare professional and not the GP… Why? Because they are hellbent on backdoor privatization of the NHS.”

How likely is a GP strike?

A new vote would be required for an industrial dispute and more than 50% of eligible GP members would have to vote in favour.

It’s unlikely that GPs would stop providing emergency care and emergency care, but they might refuse to do other routine work and might reduce their hours.

The BMA council would have to agree to a full vote, so there won’t be a potential strike any time soon. GPs threaten to strike over NHS contract times


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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