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GPs in England threaten industrial action over in-person appointments

industrial action

GPs in England threaten industrial action over in-person appointments

GPs in England are threatening industrial action in protest at the government’s attempt to force them to see any patient who wants a face-to-face appointment.

The British Medical Association’s GPs committee voted unanimously to reject the plan by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, which included “naming and shaming” surgeries that see too few patients in person.

The doctors’ union has decided to hold a ballot on possible industrial action, which could result in family doctors at the 6,600 practices in England reducing the work they undertake.

“GPs have been left with no alternative but to take this action. All efforts to persuade the government to introduce a workable plan that will bring immediate and longer-term improvement for doctors and their patients have so far come to nought,” said Dr Richard Vautrey, the chair of the BMA’s GPs committee.

It is a dramatic escalation of GPs’ increasingly bitter war of words with ministers and comes as soaring Covid cases put increasing strain on the health service.

It could herald the first major clash between the medical profession and ministers since the year-long junior doctors’ dispute in England in 2015-16, which involved a series of walkouts by trainee medics.

GPs have been angered by Javid’s instruction last week that they should see many more patients in person, and a plan to publish monthly data showing what proportion of each surgery’s appointments occur in person or virtually. They are also frustrated by what they say is a lack of action to reduce their heavy workloads.

Family doctors are also furious at a separate plan to compel those who are paid at least £150,000 a year for NHS work to declare their earnings, announced in 2019 and starting next month. The BMA has said this could imperil family doctors’ safety because “forcing GPs to publish their earnings provides no benefit to patient care, yet will potentially increase acts of aggression towards GPs and will damage morale amongst the profession and only worsen practices’ ability to recruit and retain GPs.”

It is unclear how much of an impact industrial action by GPs would have on the care patients receive. But if family doctors vote to forge ahead, it could lead to GPs:

  • Declining to comply with Javid’s insistence that they see patients in person who request it.
  • Visiting care homes less often to check on residents’ health.
  • Undertaking fewer or less regular medication reviews of the drugs being taken by patients with a long-term health condition.
  • Refusing to issue Covid medical exemption certificates, which will allow people who remain unvaccinated to continue working in environments such as care homes because they have a medical reason not to have been jabbed against the disease.

The BMA sought to reassure patients by pledging that any changes to usual working patterns would not affect GPs’ involvement in the rollout of either winter flu jabs or Covid booster vaccines. However, the decision has prompted fears that patients could find it harder to see a GP at their surgery.

“This shows the government’s deliberately provocative plans to name and shame GPs has backfired,” said Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson. “Sajid Javid must now dial down the rhetoric and get round the table with doctors and patient groups to find a way forward. It would be unforgivable if, as we enter a winter crisis, people are unable to access their local GP.”

The BMA and Royal College of GPs are deeply frustrated that Javid’s plan contained few of their proposed steps to help to reduce GPs’ “unsustainable” workloads.

They had asked him to suspend the Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) under which surgeries are paid agreed sums for monitoring the health of people with conditions such as asthma and diabetes, saying it takes up too much time and that removing the QOF system in Scotland has not damaged patient care.

It is not certain that GPs will hold a ballot because the BMA’s ruling council has to approve that course of action. But Dr Chaand Nagpaul and Dr David Wrigley, the union’s chair and deputy chair of council, are appalled at Javid’s stance.

Nagpaul has insisted it is the lack of GPs in England – the number of full-time GPs has fallen by 1,800 since 2015 despite a rising population – that has limited rapid patient access, not family doctors’ willingness to see all those seeking a consultation.

Vautry said: “The ultimate outcome should be to end the current crisis in general practice, to properly support practices to manage their workload pressure, including safely getting through the backlog of care caused by the pandemic, and deliver a safe service to patients, allowing time to create an agreed long-term plan to make general practice sustainable for the future.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We want patients to be able to see their GP promptly and in the way they choose. Our plan will improve access and drive up face to face appointments, it includes providing a further £250m to GPs in order to boost capacity.”

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Health

12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Health

Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.

 

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Health

Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.

 

 

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