'Salaried partner' pay deal proposed by union

NASGP denies plans for merger with MPU as union sets out alternative vision for salaried doctors.

Dr Ron Singer: bridging 'status gap'
Dr Ron Singer: bridging 'status gap'

The Medical Practitioners' Union (MPU) is calling for a salaried deal for GP principals, to cut exploitation of salaried doctors.

The plan aims to heal the rift between partners and salaried GPs, amid concerns that sessional doctors are underrepresented in the BMA.

MPU president Dr Ron Singer said salaried doctors were seen as 'second class'.

Creating a 'salaried principal' status to run alongside existing contract options would improve the status of salaried doctors by blurring the boundary between the two groups.

It could also create a national pay scale and career structure, similar to the consultant contract, he said.

'There is a huge gap between salaried GPs and independent contractors,' he said. 'If we fill that gap with (salaried principals), the fact that you are salaried becomes an employment status, not a clinical apartheid.'

Dr Singer's practice in Edmonton, north London, operated in this way for seven years until 2007. The partners were directly employed by Enfield PCT, but contracted to manage the practice and its budget as well as to provide medical services.

He said its security of income was a 'relief'. The practice has since returned to independent contractor status in line with moves to split PCTs' commissioning and provider roles.

NHS Alliance GMS contract lead Dr David Jenner said salaried principal status may appeal to some. But he warned it could leave practices at risk of primary care organisation interference and budget cuts.

The MPU has spent the last year in talks with the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) over how to improve the lot of salaried doctors.

NASGP chief executive Dr Richard Fieldhouse said a merger was not under discussion. Talks were aimed at increasing awareness of alternative unions.

Dr Fieldhouse said GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman had done all he could for salaried GPs within an organisation dominated by partners.

But separate negotiating rights for sessional doctors 'had to be on the table', for Dr Buckman to persuade salaried doctors they were represented in the BMA, he said.

GPC sessional GPs subcommittee chairwoman Dr Vicky Weeks argued that 'our interests are best served from within the main body of the GPC'.

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