How new GPs are faring as they build careers

Special report - Meet four of our panel of 35 GPs under 35 - a unique barometer of the views of young GPs.

What does the future hold for a young GP?

If the appointments pages of GP are anything to go by there are still practices out there seeking doctors who are 'enthusiastic', and ready to provide 'first-class primary care'.

Yet patient expectations, abuse of the salaried GP system, publicity about 'overpaid and lazy' GPs and government policies designed to break the monopoly in primary care have the potential to deter all but the most committed of candidates.

Last week GP exclusively revealed that many of this summer's cohort of newly qualified GPs have no fixed jobs.

But what do young GPs really think? What are the issues that matter to them?

This summer GP and our website Healthcare Republic invited GPs under 35 to contact us and volunteer to be part of a panel of 35 GPs which could have a voice in print and online.

We were bowled over by the enthusiasm of young GPs to stand up and influence the debate about general practice.

Today we launch the GP35. Elsewhere in GP you can read the results of the first survey of the panel. Here we profile four of those panellists.

Discover what life is really like for a young GP and what their future ambitions are.

The aim of this panel is to provide a sounding board of young GPs to generate instant opinions on issues affecting general practice.

It should also give young GPs a platform to raise their profile and ensure their voice is heard in the general practice debate.

The panel does have its reservations, but has not been put off primary care - 79 per cent would recommend a career in general practice to current medical students.

GP has recruited its GP35 but we still want to hear from all GPs about the issues that matter to you - whatever your age.

Dr Stacey Palastrand, locum

Having just completed her training as a GP registrar in August, Dr Stacey Palastrand would like to get a job as a salaried GP.

The problem is there are too few jobs and too many applicants.

She said: 'I have had to move back in with my parents at the age of 32 because I don't have a steady income and it is frustrating when you have spent your life wanting to get somewhere and then you are jobless.'

Currently based in Manchester doing GP locums Dr Palastrand's ideal job would be as a salaried GP in a semi-rural practice.

However, out of the 30 young doctors on her GP training scheme only one has so far got a regular post.

'I plan to continue looking, but it is disillusioning,' she said. Dr Palastrand originally planned to be a paediatrician but switched to general practice because of the shift work in hospital medicine and because she wanted to care for whole families rather than just children. It is this that attracts her to general practice and remains her aim for the future.

'What I really like about general practice is the continuity of care and getting to know generations of a family. I love the idea of being a GP, I just need to get a job,' she said.

Dr Jess Martin, partner, Kent

Dr Jess Martin counts herself very lucky to get a partnership when she did. The 33-year-old GP accepted a partnership at a practice in Sidcup, Kent, four years ago and has since seen her friends and colleagues struggle to do the same.

'I got offered a job a year before the pendulum swung the other way,' she said. 'At that time most of my peers were taking salaried jobs and thought I was mad being a partner but now I see my peers struggling to get any regular work.'

Since becoming a partner Dr Martin has had two children and has faced a battle to get her maternity locum reimbursement.

'I had to pursue it aggressively but I did get it eventually,' she said. Now doing six sessions a week, Dr Martin says she still loves the clinical side of general practice. 'I like the diversity and the concept of being able to develop a specialism.' Her interests lie in asthma, dermatology and allergy and she would eventually like to develop an allergy service. Her practice is facing the prospect of having to move into a polyclinic in two or three years' time.

Dr Alan young, partner, Hull

A career in general practice only began to appeal to Dr Alan Young when he was doing his house jobs after training at Nottingham Medical School.

'I liked the idea of not knowing what would come through the door next,' he said. After completing his vocational training in 2005 Dr Young, now 31, was offered a salaried job with one of his training practices and has since gone on to become a full-time partner at the same surgery in Hull. The practice is in a deprived part of the Yorkshire city with high unemployment, high numbers of elderly patients and a lot of chronic illness. He is also lucky, or unlucky, enough to work in a city where health secretary Alan Johnson is one of the resident MPs.

As yet his practice has chosen not to do extended hours but is keeping the situation under constant review. A GP-led health centre is likely to open up in the centre of the city but Dr Young says it hopefully will not affect the practice adversely as most of the surgery's patients are unlikely to want to travel to it.

On top of being a full-time GP and family man Dr Young is the club doctor for the professional rugby league club Hull Kingston Rovers and also a BASICS doctor. He says that although attacks on GPs in the lay press and government policy are leading to low morale he takes comfort from the advice of more senior GPs.

'They say these things go in cycles and you just have to get your head down and get on with it.'

Dr Anna Cumisky, salaried, Bath

Dr Anna Cumisky, aged 30, qualified as a GP in August and would like to nurture a portfolio career.

She is currently working one day a week as a salaried GP and doing a maternity locum, education and LMC work in Bath. She would also like to become a trainer and media GP.

Like many of her peers she is attracted to general practice by the holistic nature of the work and the opportunity to build up a long-term relationship with families.

'I always wanted to be a doctor and from the outset I was focused on being a GP because I like the generalist approach,' she said.

Dr Cumisky says the lack of GP partnerships is a worry but is positive about the future and the impact the new generation of GPs can make.

GPletters@haymarket.com

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