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Independents' Day

Baker: GPs must retain their independent contractor status

Exclusive The incoming RCGP chair has rejected her predecessor’s suggestion that GPs should give up their independent contractor status and become salaried employees.

Speaking exclusively to Pulse, RCGP chair-elect Dr Baker said that the independent status of GPs was ‘incredibly helpful’ and meant that the profession could remain ‘flexible and adaptable’.

She also emphasised that current chair Professor Clare Gerada’s call for a historic change in the status of GPs in the NHS was not college policy and had ‘never been discussed’ in the college.

The call for GPs to give up their independent contractor status was recently rejected by GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden who said the move would ‘emasculate’ the profession, but was backed by prominent GP academic Professor Azeem Majeed.

Asked if Dr Baker supported Professor Gerada’s call at the RCGP conference earlier this month, she said: ‘No, I don’t [agree].

‘I believe that independent contractor status actually has particular value for general practices in terms of the small business model, which I think has been incredibly helpful in the way that general practices have been flexible and adaptable.

‘Of course many GPs are not independent contractors, they have a number of different models of working [which] work well for them, so it seems to me that having a mixed economy with both independent contractor status and the different options that are available to people, and at different times of their career, work well - and I certainly wouldn’t be leading a campaign to scrap the independent contractor status.’

She added: ‘What Clare has been talking about is her view, it has never been discussed in the college. It has never come to college council, there are no papers, there is no college policy. There is no college policy that says we should move away from independent contractor status and that is very important for people to realise.’

Dr Baker will take up her position at the RCGP next month and she said that she would place a much greater focus on underpinning the college’s arguments with facts and figures. She revealed that RCGP has commissioned the management consultant Deloitte to analyse the current NHS funding situation in detail in a bid to strengthen the college’s calls for more funding and more workforce to go into general practice.

She said: ‘What we have been doing is exploring how we can “follow the money” and it is actually quite difficult to get good data so we have commissioned some work to go into that in more detail. So I think the change from when I take over is that we will be presenting more of a business case with the facts and figures to support the arguments we are making.

‘We will try to make sure that the politicians, policy makers and the public are aware of these facts and can react to the problems that we are facing.’

Dr Baker said she would continue to build on the college’s work illustrating the impact of the fall in funding in general practice.

She said: ‘My priority is to make the business case to get more funding and more workforce for general practice. The college is about standards of care for patients in general practice but we can’t have good standards of care if we don’t have enough GPs and we don’t have enough resource.’

Readers' comments (24)

  • Good start Dr Baker. :)

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  • Vinci Ho

    Credit to you to have the spine to say 'No, I don't' . However , CG has become the government advisor to change general practice in London. Where would you stand then?I hope you will stick with what you believe.
    Interesting time.

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  • Good.

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  • That's how to answer a question in a way that can't be spun - No!

    No caveats.

    No ifs, ands or buts.

    John Smith
    41 Garden Cresent


    Apple, Paper, Ball

    See - I'm not demented.

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  • 3years down the line, I suspect the statement will change to whatever the government wants the rcgp position to be.

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  • Just be careful. "Field" frightens me with some of his comments which sound menacing to me. Messing with him coud be dangerous.
    Same goes for Gerada.
    Medicine is sadly full of these types-at least with Hunt.....he is an upfront aggressive type.

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  • Clare Gerada for all her recent 'ills' was a fantastic GP frontman [sic] There are areas of the country that makes being a GP very unattractive and stressful and no one in their right mind would take up a partnership to run a surgery based on the traditional model. Salaried GPs then are the option with a management structure in place. AND bettter that be people with healthcare (GP) experience than no idea managerial 'health facilitators' from Serco or Atos or Virgin. The more traditional type practices close, the more the new contract for that area wll be force 8-8 x365. That competition will be chosen by some patients but I think in most of the country if we dig in and offer what is needed for the fantastic price we get for doing it patients will want to stay with us and the traditional model.
    I think.

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  • Well done Dr Baker!
    I was baffled by Clare Gerada's position and I certainly did not share her view on independent contractor status.

    A grassroots GP

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  • Yes whatever respect/reputation Claire built up with GPs was wiped out in a moment of madness rather like Margaret Thatcher when she introduced the Poll tax .
    Claire enjoy retirement!

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  • Apparently, the great majority of GPs wish to retain their independent contractor status and I have nothing against this. However, they are, effectively, self-employed and this entitles them to a number of advantageous tax arrangements not available to full time employees of the NHS. In addition, I am aware of numbers of GPs who have set up, or are closely involved with a commercial company. Surely if individuals wish to consider themselves as independent contractors, it would not be unreasonable to expect them to "independently" make their own pension arrangements, and the NHS Pension scheme would remain for healthcare employees whose contract and terms and conditions of service are actually held by the NHS.

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