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Ex-partners form bulk of locums’ chambers, says locums chief

The majority of GPs joining medical chambers are partners who have decided to sell up, according to the chief of a locum organisation.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, lead partner at Pallant Medical Chambers and chief executive of the National Association for Sessional GPs, told Pulse over half of new members at his chambers were GP partners who were quitting because they were ‘miserable’.

Speaking at the Pulse Live conference in London, Dr Fieldhouse said: ‘Over 50% of all the new GPs joining our chambers are currently partners.They’re resigning – leaving their partnerships to join chambers.’

‘This has been a phenomenon we’ve noticed over the past 18 months. It’s a big deal for them but they do it – they are now happy doctors but they were miserable.’

Speaking at a Pulse Live session, Dr Fieldhouse told delegates: ‘We asked members who were ex-partners, “are you happier as a GP now or before?”.’

‘They said they are happier working as a chambers locum than when they were working as a partner.’

Dr Fieldhouse said locum GPs will form a major part of the general practice workforce in future, but he stressed this would not be to the detriment of continuity of care.

He said locum GPs offer a counterbalance to some of the extra demand that can result from patients seeing the same GP, as well as bringing a valuable second opinion, or ‘pair of fresh eyes’ to a case.

Dr Fieldhouse said: ‘Doctors will see patients with chronic conditions, 50-80% of the time. But there are plenty of situations where you need the diversity and flexibility of freelance GPs, if they are organised well. We need symbiotic relationships between federations of practices and GPs working in chambers.’