BMA claims GP practices could be picketed in junior doctor action

The BMA has issued guidance aimed specifically for GP practices, informing that GP trainees in a GP practice placement are not allowed in hospital demonstration lines, as this is not their place of work.

The guidance continues to add that practices must keep in mind they are not themselves being picketed and should support their trainees’ actions.

However, the BMA also maintained that GP practices should not be directly affected by the action as they should not be heavily relying on ‘supernumerary’ trainees for day-to-day running of the practice.

The instruction has arisen as the BMA is expected to announce the result of the ballot (19 November), in which the association is urging GP practices to support strike action, by not obstructing or discouraging junior doctors from their ‘legitimate’ right to take part.

The guidance also advises that trainees considering taking part in the action should first discuss it with their practice in advance of the strikes.

The guidance says: “An employee is allowed to peacefully picket at or near their place of work on the basis that they are taking Protected Industrial Action. It would not be possible for GP trainees in a GP practice placement to join their colleagues in picket lines at hospitals as they would no longer be picketing at or near their place of work.

“The rules on industrial action mean that technically speaking, any industrial action taken by individuals has to be against their employer. For those GP trainees directly employed by practices, which is the case for the majority of GP trainees in their practice placement, they would therefore be technically taking action against the practice.

“It is important to remember, however, that the reason for the action would be the dispute with the government on the imposition of a new contract for doctors in training, rather than any problem with you as a practice.”

The General Practitioners Committee has maintained it does not expect GP practices to see surge in patients who would otherwise have attended A&E.

Deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: “We’ve produced guidance for practices on what to do if industrial action is taken. On this issue I wouldn’t anticipate a 'huge surge' in that A&E sees relatively small numbers of patients compared with the far larger number of patients the practices in the same area will see every day.”

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