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GP industrial action: Preparation is key


6 June 2012

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GPs 'striking' over NHS pension reforms will face the media microscope like never before on 21 June.

Any whiff that patient care has been compromised or patient needs have gone unmet will be pounced upon and GPs will be paraded as callous individuals only concerned by lining their own back pockets.

GPs 'striking' over NHS pension reforms will face the media microscope like never before on 21 June.

Any whiff that patient care has been compromised or patient needs have gone unmet will be pounced upon and GPs will be paraded as callous individuals only concerned by lining their own back pockets.

 

While wholly untrue in the majority, GPs need to be aware of the almost certain intense scrutiny and potential accusations.

 

Practices must prepare meticulously for the day of action. 

 

Failure to do could further undermine the government’s health reforms.  

 

If patients perceive GPs are prepared to sacrifice patient care for their pension pot, then why wouldn’t they believe decisions made about their care in the new commissioning era were also based on financial gain?

 

The doctor-patient trust is one crucial element of the NHS that must be treated delicately and with the utmost respect.

 

While the British Medical Association’s (BMA) decision to take industrial action in the face of NHS pension reform was always going to attract media attention for its controversial nature, the screaming headlines have done little to bring patients on board with the action.  

 

In fact, the coverage of the BMA’s decision has further perpetuated the fear of GPs bolting their doors on 21 June.

 

In my opinion, the BMA’s decision is symbolic and its description as a strike is misleading. Practice’s doors will remain open and those patients in need of urgent care will not be turned away – a far cry from the image of deserted consultation rooms painted by some commentators. 

 

However, it is how such urgent patients are identified that will be most interesting to observers.

 

The BMA has left it to the discretion of GPs themselves to identify those patients in urgent need of care but guidance from GP leaders on what should define “urgent care” on the day of action will go some way to protect the frontline.

 

On the upside, GP industrial action could actually teach those patients who have become so reliant on general practice, but who can self-care at home, that they can and should be more independent in their care in the future. 

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