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Independents' Day

Reasons to be cheerful in a GP partnership

Letter from Dr Thomas Philip, Aberdeen

I am writing in response to the column by Dr Shaba Nabi in the August edition of Pulse titled ‘Reasons to be cheerful’. Here was another GP partner colleague denouncing the GP partnership model and singing the praises of a salaried position at the time that the profession is fighting against the odds to maintain the partnership model.

I am a GP partner with a list size of 9,000 and four young, motivated and enthusiastic partners in inner City Aberdeen, Scotland. Our workload is as high as that of any inner city practice across UK but we still manage it between the hours of 08.00 and 18.00 with good time management, well-functioning systems and an excellent management and admin team.

Despite eight sessions at the practice and an OOH session every week, I still manage to run twice every week, play badminton once a week, train in karate twice a week along with my kids and enjoy an evening meal with my teenage daughters every day. This despite being a single parent during the week – my better half is a consultant in Edinburgh.

Being a partner gives me the added satisfaction of being an employer and running a small business successfully besides providing stable clinical continuity to my patients. So folks , all I can say is don’t be put off by scaremongering.

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Readers' comments (11)

  • You clearly have a good life. But was hoping for a more balanced evaluation looking at the positive aspects of partnership rather than a 'my life is good' account.

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  • Positives of GP partnership: on average good income (some very good), job security (can settle in one area/kids schooling etc), NHS pension (compared to company pension in private sector) most full-time partners work 4 days per week, can finish work by 6-6:30pm with ruthless time-management/delegation, some degreee of flexibility if need to finish early/start late on certain days, scope to increase income with private work/OOH (it is possible to earn up to 130-140K if you add private work/OOH/appraiser etc. if you want to work that hard!!), despite negative media still a well respected profession amongst general public
    Negatives: High stress, pressure, volume of work, risk of making mistakes, risk of litigation, some partnerships have seen a decline in income, some uncertainty to future structure of general practice (balanced by fact that GPs will always be in high demand)

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  • Dr Philip that's all great to know and good for you and your family, but for every practice that is doing well like yours, there are other examples that are struggling due to no fault of their own due to local and national pressures - are you aware of them? Do you read the Pulse regularly??

    I'm lucky to be a partner in a good practice like you but unlike you I would not criticise a colleague who was in a different situation.

    We need partners, salaried and sessional GPs why can't that be accepted.

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  • Yet another deluded partner trying to protect their pension. Next!

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  • Dear Thomas,

    I am genuinely delighted that you are happy in your partnership role and have achieved a good work life balance. But I am sorry if you felt my blog was "denouncing" the partnership model.

    I have been a GP for over 16 years and a was a Partner for the last 9 years. If you had read any of my previous blogs, you would realise it was a very painful decision for me. I have multiple (other) leadership roles and I was born to be a Partner.

    Everyone's experience is different and, for me, I could no longer take the anxiety of a falling income and how I was going to provide for my children. I was having sleepless nights over it.

    When general practice is properly funded and patient demand is tackled head on, GP Partnership is very rewarding, both emotionally and financially. But I'm afraid very few people feel it is sufficiently funded to allow this now.

    The great thing for me now is that I can be a true advocate for my trainees, as I am less stressed and more passionate about my clinical work.

    But of course, everyone's story is different and we need to respect that.

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  • we all have different strengths and weaknesses - just because you can cope doesn't mean that everyone else can manage.

    This is a big problem i have with colleagues - there are some who are doing all right and they look down on other colleagues who are struggling and blame them without having any empathy and appreciation that we are all different with differing abilities to cope.

    The system is only as good as it's weakest link - the weak part being those practices and GPs who are struggling and have had enough. Once they go (and they will) all the pressure that they have absorbed will be passed onto those who say they can manage and then we will see how far time management takes you.

    Whether you are in a partnership, salaried or locum there is increasing pressure - no one i know is truly happy with the current system.

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  • Dr Philip, you have my respect.
    Whenever someone is trying to put a positive case, even if based on their own example, they are being accused of not being miserable enough. and to continue the argument of blogger Anonymous Sessional/Locum GP10 Sep 2016 4:48pm, just because some can't cope, doesn't matter everyone can't. Sure, you have my empathy. Well, that's not going to be enough. You also have advise. I find that being a Partner allows me to change my timetable to suit my needs better and yes, it does help to reduce work stress and achieve better work/life balance. delegating appropriately also helps. As Partner , you take part in employment process. You can decide what qualities your support personnel should have. Are you happy with someone barely able to hold conversation, or can they be trusted with chasing your referrals, liaising with social services etc. You just can't have same impact on the service from a salaried position.

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  • @ 2:32pm
    Doctors should stick with doing medicine and leave HR, management, finances ..etc to those who have the specific qualification/experience! Why do you think Hunt is out to get us? He wants to wipe out deluded partners from running what they know nothing about. Get over yourself and smell the coffee

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  • @4:17 - very entertaining delusion of "Hunt is out to get us".
    I genuinely don't understand how some people who manage to obtain a medical degree and a post-graduation qualification still think they are not as well qualified to run a small business than, say, a shopkeeper. What chance do they stand in the world outside medicine? Perfect workforce, obedient and devoid of any ambition, exactly what "Hunt is out to get".

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  • Dear 4.17. As a 'qualified' MBA and time-served manager before becoming medically trained, I can wholeheartedly disagree with your position. Knowing the job, risks and personnel required to fulfil the extended functions of operation is what makes GP'S so good at delivering lean, cost effective service provision. Anything else is more expensive...unless they stop using GP'S

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