The split between salaried doctors and principals could threaten independent contractor status and push GPs to work in the private sector, the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) chairman has said.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse said GPs were proud of independent contractor status. But he added that practices that exploited salaried doctors and locums had created a 'backlash that will threaten independent contractor status'.
Dr Fieldhouse said he would prefer to work for a private healthcare company than be mistreated by another doctor. 'At least you could collude with colleagues. I would rather be exploited together than exploited in isolation.'
The NASGP chairman is not the first to highlight the risk. In March an RCGP report by Dr Clare Gerada and Dr Vicky Weeks warned that young GPs who feel 'the ladder being pulled up' as they are denied partnerships may defect to the private sector (GP, 12 March).
Last year, a GP poll found that only 36 per cent of GPs-to-be would never work for a private provider.
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said he had often encouraged practices to improve conditions for salaried doctors, but that Dr Fieldhouse's call for a salaried doctors' committee, equal to the GPC, would split the profession.
'The GPC represents all GPs, whatever kind they are,' he said. 'Local representation is not always as good as it could be but, in the GPC we go out of our way to ensure the number of sessional doctors on the committee matches the number in the community.
'The only difference between me and a sessional doctor is that I am an employer and they are employed.'
Dr Fieldhouse said strengthening the GPC sessional sub-committee was an inadequate response. 'If you were fixing this problem from scratch, strengthening a sub-committee is not where you would start,' he said.