As practices hire more and more ARRS staff, many GP locums can no longer find work. Dr Burnt Out says it’s time to shake up the partnership model
Since I retired last year, I have been a GP locum at several practices near where I live. I have also got to know many other GP locums through a WhatsApp group that I have joined.
But something strange has happened recently: all of us are now unemployed.
Over the past few months, all locum work has completely dried up, and I have heard that this has happened across the entire country. As a result, there are now thousands of experienced, fully qualified GPs who can no longer find any work at GP practices.
We are constantly being told by the powers that be – LMCs, the RCGP, leading GPs, and (ahem) even Pulse – that there are ‘not enough GPs’. Not any more, it seems.
What has happened? Well, having been a GP partner for many years previously, I know exactly what has happened: profits are down or static for many GP partnerships due to large utility bills etc.
And how do you maintain or increase profits? You reduce salaries, which is the main expenditure for practices, and employ cheaper – but less qualified and experienced – staff members.
There are plenty of PAs, ACPs, ANPs, paramedics and nurse practitioners around who are much cheaper for practices and who are now commonly being used to see undifferentiated patient presentations; GP partners can presumably then act in a ‘supervisory’ capacity. I think this was the model that was outlined in a BBC Panorama episode some time ago.
So, who needs salaried GPs and GP locums? It seems we are now too expensive for many – but by no means all – GP partnerships, and the primary care model we are heading towards is: mostly ARRS staff as first contacts for patients with supervisory GP partner input and lots of unemployed fully qualified GPs.
What sort of warped distortion of general practice is this? Is this really the right model for our great profession and the general public – including our own families – as we move forward into the future?
The GP partnership model has gone very, very wrong for thousands and thousands of GPs.
Now it’s time for a change.
Dr Burnt Out
Dr Burnt Out is a GP locum in London