Job crisis is 'bigger threat' than private firms

GPs' failure to create jobs for younger doctors could undermine general practice, GPC chairman warns.

GPs' failure to make room for their younger colleagues is a bigger threat to general practice than polyclinics or privatisation, Dr Laurence Buckman has warned.

Speaking at last week's Londonwide LMC conference, the GPC chairman described the jobs crisis as 'the cancer in our midst', and urged his colleagues to create posts for younger GPs.

'I know it's a dreadful message at a time of economic difficulty, that you should expand your practice,' he said.

'But expansion is improving services for patients - and if we don't do something, this is going to bite us very hard on the bum.'

Dr Buckman said that, despite 'apocalyptic' claims to the contrary, he did not expect the entire profession to be taken over by American corporations or corralled into polyclinics.

But the failure to create jobs could genuinely undermine general practice, by pushing younger GPs to emigrate or enter private practice, he said.

Dr Buckman declined to blame the government. 'This is our fault,' he said. 'We have failed them and we must do something to get them into practice.'

Most younger doctors contacted by GP welcomed Dr Buckman's comments. But others were more critical of the DoH, laying the blame on poor workforce planning.

'A conspiracy theorist might claim that doctors are being stockpiled, rather like coal in the 1980s, so that the profession's power is reduced,' said Dr Michael Jenkins, a locum in Bristol.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King's Fund, also speaking at the LMCs conference, said: 'I don't think medical school is a guarantee of a job for life any more.'

What do GP 35 think?

"Many GPs I know locally are struggling and others have been enticed abroad. Established GPs need to take note and look at how the profession is self-destructing." - Dr Osman Bhatti, Newham, London

"The profession and the government need to provide incentives for practices to offer GPs long-term contracts so they can participate fully in the life of the surgery." - Dr Grace Adedapo, Battersea, London

"Many of us chose general practice because of the career stability. If the profession fails me now, I will not accept the blame when I cave in and work for Tesco or Boots." - Dr Kamal Sidhu, Newcastle.

What is GP 35? Click here to find out

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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