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Square root of numeracy problem

Why be a GP principal? This is the big question those entering the profession, and many doctors already in it, are asking. And their answer is increasingly that it's not the most attractive option around.

Latest recruitment figures show an encouraging headcount rise of nearly 600 GPs in the first three months of 2004. But looking closely, there were only seven new whole-time principals.

The increase was almost entirely down to salaried GPs, 'restricted principals' and

flexible career scheme GPs. This trend is accelerating. There are now twice as many of these 'other practitioners' as two years ago.

The reasons were summed up by Dr Janis Tait in Pulse last week. She said she was 'cheesed off with the hassle' of paperwork, collecting data and running a practice. She just wants to practise medicine. So she has taken a salaried, out-of-hours role on pay similar to her income as a partner.

Flexible career options for GPs are to be welcomed, but someone still has to run surgeries or general practice will begin to crumble.

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