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This partnership is on the rocks

Dr Shaba Nabi

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Because of worsening problems with partnership, I decided to write to the head of the major GP partnership review, Dr Nigel Watson, for advice.

Dear Nigel, I have been reading your agony column for a while, but this is the first time I’ve plucked up the courage to write in. You see, I’m having serious problems with my partnership.

When partnership first bloomed back in 2004, I thought I was the luckiest girl alive. He had so many admirers fighting for his attention, but he chose me. He showered me with gifts and money, which meant I no longer had to work the night shifts I so hated. I was so happy in those early days, I couldn’t imagine life without him, and I assumed we would grow old together.

But a few years later, things started to change. It was slow initially, so I barely noticed. The money and gifts dried up first, then I started having to work longer hours to meet his demands. No matter how well I cooked his meals or cleaned his carpets, I was often made to feel inadequate.

I was working weekends and nights but he just dumped even more work on me

He kept reminding me how entitled he was to feel this way, because he was the one funding our relationship. I accepted this at first and worked even longer hours to please him, but the harder I worked, the more unreasonable he became.

Things got even worse after the kids came along. I was working weekends and nights but instead of helping, he dumped even more work on me. He kept inviting more and more people round to stay and I ended up taking care of all of them. Every time I tried to push this extra work back and say ‘no’, I was told there were plenty of others willing to step into my shoes.

It began to stop feeling like a partnership.

Then, last month, I received a letter from the bank to say I would be thrown out of my home because I was in mortgage arrears. He had remortgaged my house without me knowing and I can no longer afford the loan.

Nigel, I know where the problems lie. It’s not me, it’s him. But only you can help me. You must tell him he cannot expect me to work long hours, and then pick up all the extra work at home. My workload needs to be clearly defined so that when it’s done, I’ve got time to relax and enjoy some ‘me time’.

Second, tell him he’s got to start respecting me again. Some of that respect should come in the form of money, but the majority should come from valuing me as the good human being I am.

Finally, he has to know that he cannot have control of the roof over my head. He must be removed from the title deeds and the liability must not fall on me.

If he cannot start making these changes soon, he will lose me. I love him, but in time I will learn to love someone else who will treat me with the care and respect I deserve.

I am turning to you, because I fear you are the only person who can reach him now. If you can’t convince him to change, I can’t wait around in the vain hope he will change himself.

Yours, Dr Shaba Nabi.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol

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Readers' comments (6)

  • We all tell our patients to leave abusive relationships so why dont we all? I did.... best decision I ever made....

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  • “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

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  • Shaba,
    The time is ripe for change -the partnership model is well and truly broke for many practices . As a free wheeling locum Ive seen all sorts and the most agreeable practices are the low demand small population practices. Everything else is impossible at least as regards being in partnership . Huge high demand inner city practices are best serviced by salaried doctors with no responsibility for management., Forget the romantic notions of health promotion ,strategic planning -leave that to others and get back to the core of general practice -the patients. Even better become a locum when you can get high satisfaction by being totally focussed on the patient and then at the end pushing off with a clear conscience.

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  • Authors beware!
    The following communiqué will continue to appear under any variation of "Partnership is dead" Project
    Partnerships will never die. But they will change shape.
    The small partnerships will disappear and the big partnerships will get bigger, keeping up with the global trend of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
    The huge vested interests of the SUPER partners will see to it (a certain name, making big news in the PULSE recently, springs to mind).

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  • Shaba, Get some marriage guidance.
    The analogy doesn't quite work as there are no other elligible partners on this island and it would be difficult for most to stay single.
    There may be serious problems with the nature of the open-ended, poorly funded and unrealistic contracts imposed on GP partners. However, I think GPs would be naïve by thinking a salaried model would be better.
    Who do you think will hold the GP contacts? – NHS England – probably not.; it would be delegated to a company such as Capita – Their reputation as an employer would make your present abusive partner look like a saint!!
    A salaried GP workforce contract would probably be awarded to the lowest bidder who would need to make a profit for its shareholder’s, achieved by reducing costs (GP salaries). With contracts controlling GP employment across large swathes of the country, there would be few alternative employers so it would be a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ scenario.
    Before ditching your abusive partner, get some high quality professional advice and explore whether you can put a restraining order on him/her.

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  • We love the NHS. Sure. But it has become abusive and bullying of its workforce.
    Profits are markedly decreased [ over 50%] per item. In NI from £ 80 to £ 60 per year average, combined with increasing consultation rates roughly 3 to 6.
    So, we are valued less. Of course, doctors are needed by people and ultimately, like decreasing number of pilots, we have the power to pull the plug, if we choose.
    We are Independent Contractors and can always walk out and re-negotiate a fairer Contract.
    The only problem is the GPC. They were mandated to do this by the LMC conference., but declined to do so.
    Market forces will finally prevail.
    But this one sided abusive partnership, where one partner constantly changes the rules, should be over.

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