GPs in England launch dispute over new contract with threat of industrial action

Family doctors’ leaders have announced they are entering into a dispute with the health service amid a row over the new contract for GP services in England.

The British Medical Association (BMA) warned that GPs could stage industrial action unless changes are made to the contract.

The union said the contract, which will see services given a 1.9% funding increase for 2024/25, means many GP surgeries will struggle to stay financially viable.

A referendum carried out by the union found that 99% of 19,000 GPs rejected the new contract.

Now the GP leaders from the BMA have written to NHS England to say they are entering into a dispute with the service.

The letter to NHS England’s national director for primary care and community services, Dr Amanda Doyle, says the BMA will be writing to local care bodies to “highlight this dispute and our advice to add potential GP action on to their system risk register”.

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chairwoman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee for England, who wrote the letter, said: “GPs and their patients want the same thing – we want patients to be able to see their family doctor, quickly and easily, in a practice that is local to them, well-staffed and resourced, and safe.

“This contract imposition will do untold damage to our profession, making it harder for surgeries to stay open and give the care our patients need.

“We don’t want to take any kind of industrial action and hope it can be avoided, but the further NHS England and the Government get from working with us on solutions, the closer GPs get to taking action.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “GPs and their teams are at the heart of our communities, and we hugely value their vital work.

“The Government listened to feedback from general practice and the new contract will provide the biggest reduction of unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy in 20 years, so they can spend more valuable time with their patients, while also giving them greater autonomy to run local practices.

“Further pay uplifts may be made to the GP contract following the Government’s response to the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists Remuneration.”