Viewpoint: Why GPs must not lose their independent contractor status

I went to the NHS Confederation conference last week. I've been able to attend for a number of years, it's a bit of a managerial jamboree and in previous years clinicians have been almost invisible.

This year could not have been more different, with Kate Granger taking centre stage on the last day.

If you frequent Doctors Net you may have followed her story, a specialist registrar diagnosed with a terminal cancer, who has chosen to live her days as well as possible.

This appears to have culminated in a campaign expressed as ‘Hello, my name is’ which seeks to introduce compassion into care by establishing a human relationship between clinicians and patients by opening any contact in hospital with ‘Hello, my name is’ a hard-learned lesson from her experiences as a patient.

General practice is like meeting a distant cousin or a crazy auntie

Now, lets be straight, I like this a lot.  I use this in every out-of-hours contact and simultaneously offer a silent prayer for Kate’s wellbeing. I wouldn’t dream of misconstruing her intentions. We can leave that to the Daily Mail.

But I don’t do it in my everyday surgery.

I don’t need to, the patients have booked, usually chosen me, often have met me before, and actually walk past my name on the door.

That’s the joy of general practice, it’s more like meeting a family member, admittedly a distant cousin or crazy auntie, but our relationship is clear: we are there for you.

Now if I was just an employee, like every hospital doctor, salaried to an organisation and not contracted or committed to my patch, my patients, my practice; then I would need to introduce myself.

And that Mr Burnham, is why I believe that independent contractor status is not negotiable.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP and co-director of clincial strategy at Liverpool Health Partners.

Photo: UNP

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