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Salaried GPs driven to APMS

The scarcity of partnership vacancies is threatening to force salaried GPs into the hands of profit-hungry private providers, GP leaders are warning.

Frustration at the shortage of practice partnerships may leave many salaried GPs with no alternative but to turn to APMS practices run by private firms for employment, said GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum.In a panel debate at the Primary Care 2007 conference in Birmingham last week, a succession of GPs warned that salaried and locum GPs were becoming disengaged with core general practice. Dr Meldrum said he feared APMS practices would drive down GP pay rates. 'We may be doing our junior and salaried doctors a disservice,' he said. 'One can understand why people want to increase profit but it should never be at the expense of incentivising younger doctors. That's shortsighted.'Dr Meldrum urged GPs to rally together to prevent APMS practices having a detrimental effect on general practice. 'The short-term gain might lead to long-term losses for general practice,' he warned. But Dr David Colin-Thome, the Government's primary care tsar, argued that APMS practices sometimes offered GPs a welcome alternative to working in partnerships – and it was up to general practice to meet the APMS challenge. 'Some doctors may want to take a lower salary in exchange for lifestyle considerations and the freedom to not have to make profits,' he said. 'The bottom line is that the doctors who reward their staff and pay them well will be the winners.'The debate came a week after official statistics for 2006 showed the number of GPs working as partners had fallen by 1,649 in a year whereas the number of salaried GPs had doubled since the advent of the new GMS contract.

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