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Nearly 40% of trainees intend to take on partnerships within five years

Exclusive Around 40% of GP trainees intend to take on a partnership within five years of qualification, with only one in ten ruling it out at any point, a major Pulse survey has revealed.

The survey of 310 trainees – the first conducted by the magazine, conducted to launch a special trainees’ month – also reveals that many respondents want to combine partnerships with other roles, including working in academia, the military, CCGs, occupational health, or even tech start-up companies.

However, one in five trainees also said they are considering leaving UK general practice within five years, predominantly to work overseas, but also to change specialty or leave medicine altogether.

The figures on partnerships follow warnings around the future of the independent contractor model.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard told a committee of peers this year that: ‘While personally I love the partnership-led model of general practice, I know it is not likely to be fit for the long-term future.’

A survey by Pulse earlier this year found that that only one in five though the independent contractor model would still exist in ten years’ time, echoing comments made in 2014 by former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada and former NHS England deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick.

But Pulse’s survey reveals that partnership remains a viable option for almost half of GP trainees. The results showed that:

  • 20% cited partnership as their only career goal within five years of qualifying, while 20% said this would be either in combination with other roles, or they were still considering a sessional role;
  • 4% said that one year after qualifying, they were only considering becoming a partner, while another 10% said they were considering partnership and other roles;
  • 14% said they were planning on having left the country, with another 5% considering leaving general practice, medicine altogether or working in non-GP roles;
  • When asked what changes would make them more likely to consider a partnership role, 60% said limits on workload, closely followed by less financial risk and more business training;
  • Only 11% said they would never consider a partnership role, regardless of any changes.

Dr Donna Tooth, former chair of the GPC’s GP trainees subcommittee, said she would like a partnership, but envisages combining this with working on a disability tribunal.

She said: ‘I think newly qualified GPs will be more attracted to partnership if it’s as part of a portfolio career. I think a partnership may not in itself be sufficient for the new generation, who will want a reduced number of sessions with more time exploring other interests.’

Dr Samira Anane, current chair of the GP trainees subcommittee, said: Partnership is not dead and a significant proportion of trainees continue to be interested in becoming partners, but not necessarily straight after CCT.

‘In general practice we have a long history of portfolio careers for GPs of all backgrounds, irrespective of their contractual status. The changing landscape means that these opportunities are increasing all the time.’

what trainees expect to be doing piechart 290x385px

what trainees expect to be doing piechart 290x385px

what trainees expect to be doing 5years piechart 290x385px

what trainees expect to be doing 5years piechart 290x385px


Source: The survey was launched on 30 June, collecting responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 18 questions asked covered a wide range of GP trainee topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for £200 worth of pizza as an incentive to complete the survey. The answers for career intentions from one and five years from qualification were based on an analysis by Pulse. Respondents were allowed to pick more than one option for ease

Readers' comments (13)

  • Unusual comment from 'know my limits'/5.45am. Can't decide if it's meant to be sarcasm or genuine or just simply trolling. To blast newcomers as not being strong enough,,,and boast of not having a holiday for 5 years, missing school sports day as something to be proud off ???? I guess whatever floats your boat. As a GP partner I would certainly not be advising any trainees to take a job with you!
    I hope that car parking space and obituary are worth it!
    I might call myself 'glued2desk' but I don't need to enjoy it... I hope I know where my priorities lie.

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  • I don't know what is it. Felt like truth when woke up. Sorry for it. Pulse please delete it.

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  • I'm not sure these findings are accurate as it allowed multiple responses. Would be interesting to seecwhst the results were if it allowed only one response and restricted aspirations to the current funding envelope.

    My own survey replicated these trainee partnership aspirations but with one important difference- only if there was a massive change to the risks/liabilities/funding.

    The really sad thing is that Partnership is a win win situation if funded properly - GPs have autonomy and financial security, the country spends less on health.

    The next few years of Noctors and shift work will be like watching a car crash.

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  • Just to be clear - all trainees were only counted once and grouped according to their responses. There aren't any duplicates in these data

  • Vinci Ho

    Interesting findings.
    To all young colleagues, respect WHATEVER you choose.
    I always tell young people including my daughter to weigh the goods against bads BEFORE making any life decision. There is nothing called right or wrong decision simply. Once the decision is made , one would need the audacity of not looking back , hence , regretting. Then believe what you have chosen. Any more second or third opinion is of no relevance once you reach this stage.Follow the path you choose.Who knows what will happen tomorrow? After all , life is just a journey, not a destination.......
    Recommend you to watch Amy Adams'(my most favourite Lois Lane) highly acclaimed SciFi film , Arrival(2016).

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    Great 40% of trainees want to be Partners - shame that retiring horde will be far larger.

    Most trainees will be part time, at 5.5 session ave - we will not be training enough to replace those leaving, even without the drop outs leaving UK or GP practice entirely.

    Even stealing doctors from poor third world countries will not stop the influx of Non GPs to try and plug the gaps.

    Eventually GP practices will fold from lack of staff - NHS fails - Government gets it goal of privatisation to save NHS.

    American Health care companies will float in to save the day - as long as you can pay!

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  • Vinci Ho

    PS to all young colleagues
    'Stay hungry , Stay foolish'
    Steve Jobs

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  • The main advice I would give is take on what you are comfortable with .
    Partnership does give more control and flexibility but can carry financial risk and burden of management.
    People should do what they are comfortable with ,but don't stretch your personal finances or you will feel trapped and that is when the dreaded burnout strikes.
    General Practice is not a high earning career so if money is honey to you chose something else.

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  • This confirms the demise of GMS primary care. 100% are needed with most working full time to address recruitment problems. A post-trainee should only join a sustainable practice, and as far as I can see no practice is sustainable at present, therefore 0% will become partners.

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  • Assuming we are told a session should be just over 4hrs (excluding our lunch hour) - the perceived 5.5 sessions is only 22hrs - most of us work that in 2 days, let's be realistic 3 full days is approaching 9 sessions - whereas in the "good old days" 8 sessions was considered full time once we had added in time to do admin / reports etc.
    What would now be considered proper full time would in reality be more like 15 sessions! Where do I sign? I hear them all cry!

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  • Praise the lord, at last someone asked rather than assumed.

    Apparently some do want to be partners...

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