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At the heart of general practice since 1960

'Finding a partner's job feels as likely as a lottery win'

Dr Ruth Chapman is so worried about the dearth of partner jobs she's changing the habit of a lifetime and becoming politically active.

Dr Ruth Chapman is so worried about the dearth of partner jobs she's changing the habit of a lifetime and becoming politically active.

To be honest, I am not usually the most politically active person. At medical school I was one of the founding members of a green action group – which I have to admit saw very little action apart from a lot of beer drinking, navel contemplating and the appearance of one bin for recycling aluminium cans in the bar.

However, the current political climate prompted me to attend my first LMC meeting and an open BMA meeting at BMA House not long ago.

The LMC meeting was well attended by GP partners from my area, all concerned about the recent GMS contractual ‘negotiations'. As I sat there I wondered what the relevance of Option A or Option B was to me.

Looking around the meeting, there was definitely a lack of sessional GPs. I – like an increasing number of GPs – am currently salaried, and like most of my peers feel that obtaining a partnership in the near future is about as likely as finding a winning lottery ticket stuck to the sole of my shoe. This is mostly because practices opt to employ salaried GPs rather than appoint partners for – let's be charitable here – a variety of reasons (money).

Disengaged

Many sessional GPs have probably disengaged from all political discourse, which seems irrelevant to them. This is understandable. Why should we worry about changes to the GMS contract when we feel disenfranchised by our colleagues already?

Most decisions about our working lives and environment are already out of our control and, unless things change, they always will be. However, there is no doubt that the unrelenting anti-doctor spin affects us all, and the profession can only be stronger if doctors act together.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum spoke at the BMA meeting that I attended. I took the opportunity to put to him the situation of sessional GPs, and he said he had previously warned of the dangers to the profession of employing salaried GPs in preference to partners.

He said his practice had offered partnerships to both their salaried doctors. He also commented on the lack of doctors under 40 attending the meeting. I must be starting to look my age.

So, sessional GPs, we are going to have to be more politically active if we want our voices heard. Sessional GPs tend to be younger and therefore represent the future of general practice.

If we want to have any influence on what is planned for our future working lives then we have to get involved. To this end I participated in the BMA poll – even though it felt a bit like choosing a meal for someone else at a restaurant.

Dr Ruth Chapman

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