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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Non-principals now make up 20 per cent of GP workforce

Non-principals will account for at least one-fifth of voters in the ballot for the new GP contract, it has emerged.

Preliminary findings from a survey on the size of the supplementary list, which non-principals are required by law to join in order to work in the NHS, suggest English primary care trusts have around 10,000 non-principals on their books. The figure is significantly higher than had previously been estimated, said Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the National Association of Non-Principals.

Two-thirds of trusts had responded to the survey and collectively they have 6,769 non-principals on their lists.

'It's no longer the case that a non-principal can't get a proper job,' said Dr Fieldhouse. 'It's a better way of life. You don't have to be a partner to think of yourself as having succeeded in life.'

Even if around 900 GP registrars who are also on the list are discounted, the figure still represents a massive increase, he added.

'This survey shows we do have enough doctors in this country but they are used very inefficiently and ineffectively,' Dr Fieldhouse said.

'Now we know non-principals are 20 per cent of the workforce they should be involved in NSFs, receive the British National Formulary and be involved with practice data,' he added. 'Ten thousand non-principals are carrying out up to 50 million consultations a year, but often doing silly things, such as routine blood pressures or smears, that could be done by nurses.'

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