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Gold, incentives and meh

Thiomersal 'cleared'

'Slacking' partners could fuel contract rows between doctors – Nerys Hairon and Shirin Beheshti report

The new contract is set to spark off a wave of practice disputes after half of GPs admitted they have had problems with partners not pulling their weight.

Some 49 per cent of GPs told a Pulse survey they had experienced trouble over perceived slacking, fuelling concern that target-related pay from the quality and outcomes framework could fuel rows between doctors.

GPs said the main problems were different perceptions of how much work was done by slow and fast consulters and lack of communication between doctors. One GP also complained about a partner taking 'spurious sick leave'.

Dr Jenny Lebus, a GP at an 11-partner practice in south-west London, said she had known of GPs who 'seemed to duck out of the building before the visits are done'.

She added: 'Partnership has to be based on trust, but if you persistently see a partner leaving the building much earlier than you because you still have a pile of admin that definitely niggles.'

Dr Lebus said it was extremely difficult to compare each GP's workload so it was easy for a doctor to perceive they were working harder than their partner.

Dr Iris Agnew, a GP in Yeovil, Somerset, said doctors may think partners who worked differently to them were not pulling their weight.

She said: 'Fast people might perceive that they get more

urgents, but the slow people do everything in one consultation.'

Nearly three out of five GPs – 58 per cent – described them- selves as 'fast' consulters, compared with 42 per cent who said they were 'slow'. Three GPs in four said they believed fast and slow consulters work-ed as hard as each other.

The survey of 140 GPs found 71 per cent of practices made all GPs see the same number of extras as a way of equalising workload. Only 14 per cent of GPs divided work and pay on a points system.

Dr Kevin Macluskey, a GP in Halesworth, Suffolk, said if GPs couldn't trust their colleagues to put in the same effort they should not be in partnership with them in the first place.

Half of GPs said LMCs or PCOs should run 'marriage guidance' sessions to help practices discuss problems over workload.

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