Viewpoint - Dr Michelle Drage on why she backs contractor status

Writing for, Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage says removing independent contractor status will not address problems the profession is facing.

Dr Michelle Drage: independent contractor status key to GP freedom
Dr Michelle Drage: independent contractor status key to GP freedom

GPs and general practice, amid multiple NHS reorganisations and the ensuing chaos, continue to be the patient's advocate.

Independent and focused on the whole person, free from commercial control, with the registered patient list at the heart of service delivery.

This freedom is a key feature of the IC model, as is the freedom to innovate, to shape local services around local patient need. London GPs, like our colleagues elsewhere, overwhelmingly want to retain IC status, as our survey shows.

So what is the problem the IC model debate is supposed to solve?

Is it GP overload? Try investing the same energy and resources that now go into system reorganisations, in supporting and developing what we have that is good already.

Is it A&E flooding? Try investing the same energy and resources that have gone into four-hour waits, in services that would prevent the problem.

Is it lack of interest in partnerships? Sessional and new GPs aspire to being in control of their destiny and do not want to be service fodder for corporates, whether commercial or GP-led.

They want a career path allowing development, portfolios of work, a work-life balance that fits their complicated worlds, and autonomy.

How do you find the money? Stop perverse incentives created by Payment by Results that encourage hospitals to create demand, and redirect that resource to primary care.

By supporting general practice to do what it does best, organic change will happen. So let's stop this sideshow of a debate and focus on what we can all do to support our colleagues with a range of flexible career options for the future.

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