Exclusive: GPs believe contractor status threatened

Just a fifth of GPs believe the independent contractor model of general practice will survive the next decade, a GP newspaper poll has found.

Laurence Buckman
Laurence Buckman

But opinion is split over who is to blame for the rising number of salaried GPs unable to find partnerships, identified by the GPC as the biggest threat facing the profession.

‘It is clear that the aim of the government is to make all GPs salaried sooner or later,’ wrote one respondent, while another claimed: ‘Fat-cat GPs are destroying general practice.’

The survey of 423 GPs found that just 9% would prefer an all-salaried service, but a total of 80% either thought independent contractor status would be lost in 10 years’ time, or were unsure.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the situation was urgent, but was confident independent contractor status would not disappear in a decade.

The GPC is taking steps to ensure the next generation of GPs is not all salaried.

He added: ‘We’re all concerned about partnerships – that’s why we are discussing how we can encourage practices to take on partners.’

The GPC has begun negotiations with the DoH to re-establish some functions of the now-defunct Medical Practice Committee, abolished in 2003. It hopes partially reviving the committee, which judged whether practices could take on new doctors, and encouraged expansion in under doctored areas, could create a lever to encourage partnerships.

In 2007/8 a third of GPs were salaried, compared with just 12% in 2004/5, recent figures show.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

  • Read this week’s GP dated 24 April for the full version of this story.

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