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Just one in 10 locum GPs interested in future partnership role

Exclusive Just around one in 10 locum GPs would consider taking on a partnership role in the future, a major survey of locum GPs has revealed.

In Pulse’s first ever survey of locum GPs, only 13% answered yes to whether they would ‘ever’ become a partner in future, while 65% said no and the remainder that they did not know.

The main barriers appear to be a lack of a financial incentive and concerns regarding partner workloads.

This comes after those behind the government-commissioned review of the GP partnership model said they would be looking at the possibility of introducing ‘attractive features’ of locum GP roles.

When asked what was most likely to entice locums to take on a partner role, the most popular response in Pulse’s survey was ‘increased partner pay’, chosen by 81% of respondents, followed by ‘more practice funding’ (76%), ‘reduced bureaucracy’ (70%) and ‘reduced workload’ (68%).

The survey further revealed that the majority of locums (51%) would shun a future salaried GP position, although one in four (25%) would consider this option (see charts below.)

It appears that offering work flexibility and a high salary are the best way to entice locums into salaried roles.

Some 65% said the ‘ability to work less than full time’ would attract them, while 56% would be lured by increased pay.

The news comes as recent analysis by Pulse revealed that over the past decade, the NHS in England has lost nearly 5,000 partners.

In response to the decline in popularity of the role, the Government has launched a review aimed at identifying and breaking down the barriers to GPs choosing partnership.

Interim findings from the review, published last month, showed GP workload is rising to the point where it ‘verging on unmanageable’ and in some regions of the country may be putting patients at risk.

Commenting on the Pulse survey findings, BMA sessional GP subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris said they were ‘consistent’ with what she hears from locum GPs.

She told Pulse: ‘I think it’s a really important thing that the Department of Health [and Social Care] and NHS England need to realise that the locum workforce is not made up of career locums now.

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‘It’s made up of people with a huge amount of experience in lots of different areas who are choosing to work in a freelance portfolio way.’

According to Dr Norris, the only way this ‘would be reversed’ is ‘by significantly improving the role of a partner in terms of workload and finances’.

She added: ‘But they need to recognise that this is a sea change. This is how the market is going now. This is how doctors are choosing to work.

‘And they need to embracing that and working with those doctors rather than trying for force them unilaterally back into a substantive role if that’s not what they want.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘GP partnerships continue to be an attractive career choice and an important part of the health economy.  

‘We know GPs want more time to spend with patients – that’s why we have invested £30m in innovations which are estimated to help free up 10% of GP time.  

‘We are committed to growing the number of doctors in general practice by 5,000. This year we recruited a record 3,473 doctors into GP training against a target of 3,250 – a 10% increase on last year.’






Source: The Pulse survey was launched on 25 September 2018, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 29 questions asked covered a wide range of GP locum topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to our readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for £200 of John Lewis tokens as an incentive to complete the survey. Around 283 locum GPs responded to this survey.