Fears raised over split in profession

Exclusive - GP survey finds salaried GPs and partners are divided over the profession's future.

Most salaried doctors believe a damaging split has opened up between them and GP partners, a GP newspaper survey has revealed.

The survey found that nearly 78 per cent of salaried doctors believe there is now 'a clear split' in the profession, and that the LMCs conference last month was wrong to reject a motion deploring it. Just 50 per cent of partners feel the same.

One salaried doctor told GP newspaper: 'Greedy employers like mine will end up seeing general practice in the hands of business.' Another said: 'One group is there to exploit the other to selfishly maintain its own income.'

But some partners suggested that the real problem lies with salaried doctors' expectations.

'Salaried doctors seem to have an unrealistic idea of what partnership involves,' argued one. 'Faced with the extra management workload many would run a mile. Salaried GPs seem to be constantly demanding better conditions to the detriment of the service,' added another.

Another partner, meanwhile, argued that clashes were inevitable: 'The boss and the worker will always have conflicting interests when it comes to remuneration.'

Support for moves to boost partnership opportunities is much stronger among salaried doctors than among principals.

Nearly 70 per cent of salaried doctors think the GPC should orchestrate a national campaign to increase partnership opportunities. Just 41 per cent of partners agree.

Both groups want the GPC to negotiate contractual incentives to boost partnerships, but a gap in support remains. Some 75 per cent of salaried doctors want this, compared with just 63 per cent of partners.

One GP said a campaign would fail, because there were many reasons for local variations in partnership availability.

Others questioned whether incentives would be effective or the 'right thing to do'.

'I think it sends the wrong message to financially incentivise practices to take on partners,' argued one principal.

However, a minority of both salaried doctors (31 per cent) and partners (23 per cent) say that the two groups' interests are not compatible.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said there was more that 'unites the profession than divides it', but pledged to make extra efforts to resolve the split.

He added that the DoH was looking at incentives, which he hoped would be used to boost partnerships.


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