The BMA was challenged last week for failing to represent GPs locked into working for private providers.
Some GPs working for private firms enjoy none of the benefits of working for the NHS, delegates at the annual spring meeting of the Medical Women's Federation heard.
'There is no superannuation, no sick pay, no maternity leave and no redundancy pay,' Dr Chulanthi Samaratunga said. 'I don't think that when PCTs give contracts to a private provider they always realise that part of the reason they are so much cheaper is because they are not paying the benefits we expect, like superannuation.'
Dr Samaratunga has worked for private providers for 10 years because 'there is no other work available'. 'As a BMA member I don't feel represented. The GPC is not negotiating for GPs who have no choice but to work for a private provider,' she added.
GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said that 'both the BMA and the GPC' were working on this in both 'visible and covert' ways. She pointed out that the GPC has been working to ensure that locums would have 'death in-service' benefits in an influenza pandemic.
But she admitted that the failure of GP principals to appoint partners was 'opening the door for the private sector to entice GPs into frequently the only position that is available, whatever the terms and conditions of employment'.
She added that some private providers offer better terms and conditions than some traditional general practices.
'I routinely come across experiences documenting exploitation and broken promises by existing GP partners,' she said.
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