GP delegates have voted overwhelmingly against suggestions for all GPs to become salaried at the Pulse Live conference in London today.
Asked the question whether all GPs should become salaried, only a handful of delegates raised their hands in favour of such a suggestion after listening to a debate of GP leaders.
Last year, former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada claimed that the partnership model has become ‘anachronistic’, and suggested the profession should move to a wholly salaried model, while Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham predicted a move to a GP salaried profession.
But at the debate in London today, delegates were overwhelmingly against such a suggestion.
Speaking in the panel debate, GPC member and Surrey GP Dr Dr Richard Van Mellaerts argued against the point by saying the small adaptable model is the only way to keep general practice sustainable and the Government could not afford all GPs to be salaried.
He said: ‘If we do move to a salaried service, the Government is not going to turn up with a big chequebook and buy us out. They are not going to buy our premises off us and move our staff across. They are going to run us out of business and set up with private companies. We will be working for them, on their terms and conditions and it is not going to be a lot of fun.’
Also arguing against the suggestion, Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said: ‘The system that we have had for the past 60 years has allowed GPs to be advocates for patients, where we can maintain our autonomy away from being overmanaged by overzealous NHS managers looking to make cuts, and the ability that we have to state our views and our attitude outside the NHS machine and still remain working. I think they count for a huge amount and we will sacrifice those at our peril.’
Arguing in favour, Professor Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and head of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London and a GP in Clapham, said: ‘We lack the protection that NHS employees have, such as sick pay, CPD and other benefits that employees would gain… We see bodies like the BMA and RCGP trying to increase our funding but they are not doing very well in that, they are facing a very tough Government.’
He added that if the profession went salaried, ‘we would be able to have workforce planning, so that we would be able to place GPs where they were most needed’.