Exclusive: Contract poses threat to partners

Just one in 10 GPs think practices will heed the GPC's call for more partners.

Two-thirds of GPs believe the new GMS contract has made it harder for practices to take on partners, a GP survey shows.

Most agree that existing partners have a responsibility to offer young GPs this opportunity, and back GPC calls for practices to hire more partners.

But very few - just 11 per cent - of GPs believe this will happen (see survey results).

'It's my job to reverse that inevitability,' GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman told GP.

In the current financial climate, encouraging practices to take on additional partners was a 'difficult message', he said.

'But we have to make people understand it. If general practice goes down the Swanee, each of us is responsible.'

Of the 95 GPs surveyed, many said the DoH should provide incentives for practices to take on partners.

One called for a £5,000-£10,000 golden hello payment for practices that take on new partners, and 'full maternity locum reimbursement'.

Others called for legislation requiring practices to maintain a strict partner-to-patient ratio.

But Jon Ford, head of the BMA's health policy unit, said: 'What has affected recruitment of new partners has been the failure to increase the contract value since 2005/6 in a meaningful way. The cake is getting smaller in real terms.'

Dr Buckman warned that if practices do not take on young doctors, they will find work in the private sector or abroad.

But new GMS had made it easier not to take on partners, he said. 'In the past, taking on a partner brought money, but now only patients have that effect.'

National Association of Primary Care chairman Dr James Kingsland said the right partner was more cost-effective than a salaried GP because they were more dedicated. But he said the working time directive meant many young GPs were not ready for this.

He said some had not built up enough experience to practise fully independently, and others did not understand that 'when there's work to be done, we do it'.

The survey showed nearly two-thirds of GPs had a partner under 40 years old. However, competition for jobs is intense. Most practices said recruiting was easier than ever.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

Survey results

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