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15-05-2012 | Article

Consider industrial action with care

There is no peace and quiet being a GP. There is always something happening either on the contractual or clinical front, with virtually no time to pause for breath. The latest issue is the BMA vote on industrial action running from 14-29 May. As explained in a recent univadis GP News article the ballot is asking doctors two questions: whether they are willing to take part in industrial action short of a strike, and whether they are willing to take part in a strike, with the BMA urging members to vote "yes" to both questions (click here).

In my opinion and speaking in a purely personal capacity, I do not see any strong advantage from taking any form of industrial action. I cannot believe a government will agree to demands from well-paid doctors when there is economic doom and gloom up and down the country. In this case, what are the alternatives for us?

Well, we can remain vociferous and keep on making our case to the public, media and anyone else that cares to listen to us. However other factors may come around to support our case. According to GP magazine, GP consultations will continue to rise (click here). But will the GPs be there to meet the demand? According to a recent article published in The Times on 8 May there will be a shortage of GPs in the near future (click here for article, behind paywall). The headline pronounced: "Skills shortage looms for NHS with one in four GPs due to retire", while the article expressed concern that there may not be enough replacements.

Of course, there may be room for more efficiency gains, but that will still not necessarily be enough, meaning that market forces come into play. We can hope that the economy will have picked up enough in a few years' time to fund an expansion of the primary care workforce. However, that it is further in the future and does not address the present decision over which way to vote. Please give this issue serious consideration and consider the arguments from all sides and then make an informed decision.

Best wishes,

Harry

Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief univadis

By Dr Harry Brown