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Partners have ignored interests of the profession

Dr Laurence Buckman is in a very difficult position, dealing with GP partners who are ignoring his pleas and a highly intransigent Government.

He has tried very hard to encourage practices to appoint more partners in the long-term interests of the profession and to defend GPs' interests against attacks from the Government and the press, but to no avail.

GP partners have had essentially four 0% pay awards in succession and have seen profits fall. Many practices are nervous about Darzi centres.

To remain commercially viable they have decided either not to appoint a partner or to recruit salaried GPs. This is a situation that has, to some extent, been forced on them. But it was not always like that. In the early years of the new contract, partners did extremely well and then increased profits further by appointing salaried doctors rather than partners. There was no commercial necessity at that time to maximise profits in this way. Moreover, it played into the Government's hands and took no account of the long-term interests of the profession.

And there can be no justification for the ways some practices have exploited their salaried colleagues with unfair contracts. Many GMS practices do not offer the BMA contract, although they are obliged to do so, and hardly any PMS practices offer it to the letter. The BMA describes the steps it has taken to ensure salaried GPs and locums are properly supported, but it is simply not enough. Little seems to improve from one year to the next. The profession has been in crisis for a very long time and a new direction is needed if it is to survive as we know it.

From Dr John Pike, sessional GP and former partner, Bristol

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