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Salaried GPs warned over terms

Salaried GPs are being warned to be wary of substandard terms and conditions being offered by private firms taking on NHS practices.

By Rob Finch

Pulse can reveal that one of the leading companies involv-ed, Chilvers-McCrea, is offering terms well below the BMA's standard minimum contract.

GPs who have worked for Chilvers-McCrea, which runs 18 practices mainly in deprived areas, reported it offered only six weeks maternity benefits, followed by statutory maternity pay, and only two weeks paid sick leave per year.

The GPs said they had been driven to quit the practices taken over by the company as a result of the conditions.

One salaried GP, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had been left to deal with 3,500 patients after Chilvers-McCrae took over the practice she was working at but failed to find a salaried GP willing to work for its terms.

She said: 'The Chilvers McRae handbook was very clear about maternity benefits: six weeks only and then statutory maternity pay. Similarly only two weeks' sick leave will be paid each year.

'These conditions are way below the BMA-negotiated standards. Luckily my contract was still in place due to TUPE agreements so I was not subject to these conditions. However, my job description changed markedly due to the vacancies.'

Dr Rory McCrea, chair of Chilvers-McCrea and a GP in Waltham Abbey, Essex, admitted its conditions 'don't read like they are BMA compliant'.

He said: 'We are reviewing that and at the moment the custom and practice has been compliant with the BMA.'

Dr McCrea added that it had a 90 per cent retention rate.

The GPC last week warned that as more private companies moved into the market, they would look to cut terms and conditions in order to make a profit from practices.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'Perhaps they will engage doctors from Eastern Europe who are willing to work for lower income levels.'

Negotiators said firms taking on APMS contracts may not offer NHS pensions.

Dr Peter Holden cited the inability of UnitedHealth Europe to do so for GPs at the two practices in Derby it is taking over.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the National Association of Sessional GPs, urged salaried GPs to scrutinise their contracts thoroughly.

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