Exclusive: Your Practice 2010 - 62% of future GPs to be partners

Almost two thirds of future GPs want to be full-time partners, according to a snapshot poll by GP.

More than half of those questioned at the BMA's 'GPs to Be' conference, in Leeds last week, believed private-sector involvement in primary care should be banned or strictly limited. About half of future GPs interviewed by GP said they would not work for private providers under any circumstances.

Women are four times as likely to work part-time as men, according to NHS workforce data, but two thirds of female future GPs polled planned to work full-time.

GP leaders said the findings were surprising and demonstrated that the future of traditional general practice was safe, despite increases in part-time working among GPs. About 75 per cent of GPs worked full-time in 2002 compared to 92 per cent in 1992.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'These results are heartening.

I welcome the fact that people feel the need to be full-time, and want to play an active part in running a practice.'

He said the antipathy to private involvement reflected the views of the rest of the profession.

'These people want to work in normal practices, and keep general practice the way it is - we are glad to see that,' he said.

RCGP chairman Professor Mayur Lakhani said: 'Attitudes are changing and I also detect a comeback for partnerships.'

Of future GPs who wanted to be partners, half expected finding a partnership to be tough.

Dr Lenin Vellaturi, an SHO in Stafford, said: 'It is difficult to find partnerships, but I think it will be OK as long as I am prepa-red to move around the region.'

But both Dr Lakhani and Dr Buckman believed there would be sufficient posts available to accommodate future GPs.

'Although there will be an element of competitiveness for the best partnerships, there will be many exciting opportunities for ambitious, committed and well-trained GPs,' Dr Lakhani said.

GPC member Dr Nigel Watson predicted that a higher proportion would want to take on partnerships: 'In five years' time, more of them will understand the benefits that come from being a partner.'

He added that the number of partnerships available would remain constant despite the move to a practice-based new GMS contract: 'You get a different level of commitment from a partner. When the email comes round on Friday saying there's an extra shift to do, it tends to be partners who say "yes".'

Dr Kerry Boardman, a GP registrar in Suffolk, said the involvement of the private sector in general practice was inevitable, but could cause problems.

'Competition to drive up standards may be a good thing. But it is standard practice for companies to price others out of the market by making loss-leading bids.'

60% intend to work full-time
62% intend to be partners
25% want no private firms in primary care
31% say private sector must be strictly limited

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