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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Crisis of confidence hits GP jobs market

By Nigel Praities

A crisis of confidence is gripping the GP job market, with huge falls in the number of salaried and partner vacancies.

The number of salaried posts available has crashed by 35% in a year, and overall vacancies are also down by more than 30%, a Pulse investigation reveals.

A separate BMA analysis estimates as many as 1,000 newly qualified GPs will fail to find work this year as practices are forced to cut salary costs.

BMA leaders warned the prospect of a third successive pay freeze, and the threat posed by polyclinics to practice lists, had left partners terrified of taking on new staff.

Some are even resorting to employing GPs under a new type of ‘fixed-share partner' agreement, with recruits sharing the risks without receiving the usual split of profits.

Dr Alex Smallwood, chair of the GPC's GP trainees subcommittee and author of the BMA analysis, warned the profession was placing itself in a ‘precarious position'.

He said newly qualified GPs were likely to turn to private companies for job security and to ensure reasonable terms and conditions. ‘Many practices are replacing an outgoing partner with a part-time salaried GP and a practice nurse. I know of GPs in training who are working as a taxi driver or in A&E just so they can live.'

Dr Fay Wilson, secretary of five LMCs in north-west London and a sessional GP, said the profession was suffering from

‘Darzi fright'. ‘Salaried work has become insupportably expensive for partners and posts are drying up. The Darzi centres do have salaried workers but there will be a downward pressure on salaries.

Paul Kendall, senior medical partner at accountant Dodd and Co, said practices were looking at new ways of employing GPs to cut costs: ‘We are seeing shorter contracts for salaried GPs and more fixed-share partners where they have an agreed share of practice profits but are self-employed.'

But the GPC condemned the use of fixed-share partnerships. Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, new GPC negotiator and spokesperson for education and training, said GPs needed to treat partners as equals. ‘This is the worst of both worlds for a GP. They are expected to do the full work of a partner but do not have any of the same rights as a salaried GP,' she said.

Dr Sashi Shashikanth, a principal at West London Medical Centre, founded an independent GP group in Hillingdon, west London, aiming to ensure better representation and training for salaried GPs.

He said the profession had created a ‘two-tier' system where partners had all the

advantages: ‘There is now institutionalised discrimination against our sessional colleag-ues, some of whom feel they are in a sub-class.'

Our analysis examined job advertisements in the pages of Pulse in the first seven months of this year, and compared them with the same seven-month period a year ago.

The BMA took a one-month snapshot of job adverts and the number of GPs seeking work.

Dr Fay Wilson: jobs market suffering from 'Darzi fright' Dr Fay Wilson: jobs market suffering from 'Darzi fright'

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