The chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee is to step down a year after being re-elected.
Richard Vautrey’s departure comes amid high tensions with the government over the number of GP appointments which are happening remotely.
The union has recently voted to ‘reject’ the government’s so-called ‘rescue plan’ for primary care, and has only today sent out ballots for potential industrial action. The government’s plan has threatened to withhold additional winter funding from practices which do not offer enough face-to-face appointments.
Dr Vautrey, who is a GP in Leeds, has been chair of the committee for four years. He was re-elected last year for another three-year term, due to end in 2023.
He said: “With the need to begin planning for a new contract as we approach the fourth year of our current five-year agreement, a new chair and team need to be given the opportunity to do this.
“Being chair of the BMA’s GP committee has been the greatest privilege and honour. To be able to work on behalf of this great profession for so long has given me the opportunity to work with many extremely gifted and dedicated people and I want to thank them all for their help, support, and encouragement.”
It is unclear how the industrial action process will be handled with no GPC chair in place.
Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA council, said: “As chair of GPC [Dr Vautrey] has real achievements to his name, from the £2.8bn of extra funding into general practice he secured as part of the new five-year contract in 2019 and the landmark removal of the burden of indemnity costs for GPs and their staff for their NHS work.
“His leadership throughout the pandemic has made a difference to doctors and patients alike, not least through the critical role he played in enabling GPs to lead and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine programme that has contributed to the highly successful roll-out of vaccinations and the most successful vaccination programme in NHS history.”