GP leaders at the BMA have written to the Labour Party, urging a discussion in a bid to change its position on the future of the partnership model.
There had been some confusion over Labour’s position on the GP partnership model earlier this year – with shadow health secretary Wes Streeting offering conflicting opinions.
However party leader Sir Keir Starmer made the position clear last month when he said the GP partnership model is ‘coming to an end of its life’ and that the NHS needs ‘more salaried GPs’.
BMA representatives have now written to call for a roundtable with Sir Keir and Labour’s health team, to discuss the GP partnership model ‘within the parameters’ of Labour’s NHS mission.
The letter, signed by acting GPC England chair Dr Kieran Sharrock and BMA sessional GP committee co-chairs Dr Bethan Roberts and Dr Samira Anane, welcomed Labour’s ‘commitment to supporting the NHS’, including tackling workforce issues and lack of investment.
But they added that they ‘do not agree that abandoning the independent contractor model is the answer’.
The letter said: ‘The independent contractor model supports tailored cost effective healthcare for population health, allowing innovation and agile delivery cutting across communities and individuals.
‘Appropriately resourced and supported, the independent contractor model leads to retention, job satisfaction for sessional and contractor GPs, and high levels of continuity and patient care.’
In January, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting had said Labour wanted abolish partnerships but he later backtracked, saying he had ‘no intention’ to nationalise general practice and that it had all been part of a deliberate approach to ‘set the cat amongst the pigeons’.
Labour’s plans for NHS reforms also include doubling the number of medical school places, producing ‘thousands more GPs’, however some GPs questioned the length of time this will take to bear fruit.
The GPC letter sent this week said: ‘Your current plans to expand the doctor workforce will be one vital part of the solution in the long-term, but in the short-term retaining the current workforce is essential.
‘In general practice we know that this can be helped by removing bureaucratic targets, supporting practices with inflationary pressures and freeing up contractors to deliver care rather than holding them to restrictive contracts.’
The committee chairs also said they had been in ‘regular contact’ with Mr Streeting who had shown a commitment to ‘considering the challenges facing general practice and developing Labour policy to address this’.