One GP in the South West describes her experience of being turned away after enquiring about the possibility of a salaried role instead of the advertised partnership
After years of working contentedly as a salaried GP in a forward-thinking practice, I recently moved to a new part of the country. Having trained within my practice area and always worked within the same geographical area, the move required some adjustment: new practices, new hospitals, new referral processes and, seemingly, an outdated way of thinking.
Knowing GP colleagues across the country at a similar career stage to me, I was used to the understanding from practices that the appetite for an immediate partnership was waning in favour of a more flexible approach. Many of my cohort have opted for portfolio careers, retainer positions or partnership only after a salaried role, to ensure that they were willing to take on such a big commitment in the current uncertain environment.
Personally, I wanted to adjust to working in a new area, with new colleagues, without the pressure of committing to a partnership. Given the recruitment crisis, it came as a surprise to be turned away effectively at the door of some local surgeries after enquiring about the possibility of a salaried role in place of the advertised partnership.
Although I fully understand the sometimes-desperate desire to refill partnership positions, it felt like they had totally failed to take the temperature of the current market. Sadly, some of these positions still remain vacant. I was also told during one of these thank-you-but-no-thank-you conversations that I’d be better off becoming a partner, despite my reservations, as I would have a much better financial settlement when the inevitable ‘governmental take-over’ occurred.
First, the experience left me feeling despondent about the future of general practice. For those who are seeking anything other than an immediate partnership, the slightly archaic thinking is likely going to push them into locum work. This in itself exacerbates the problem of poor continuity and recruitment and leads to less cost-effective staffing.
Second, I still view the partnership model as the bedrock of stability in general practice and would not rule it out for myself when my situation is more stable. Therefore, the notion of inevitability raised by some about a partnership deal with the Government was alarming.
The lack of ownership and accountability when working for an overarching employer, as opposed to running a practice on your own terms, seems to be something we should fight for in order to save the NHS, not to use as a lure for recruitment. I am now happily employed by a practice that did offer me a salaried role with no partnership strings attached, despite advertising for a partner position.
Ironically, because of their pragmatic approach, I feel much happier to consider a partnership role there in the long term, so their adaptability paid off. I sincerely hope that the experience I’ve had is limited to my geographical area and not replicated across the country.
Otherwise, I fear that as a collective we may end up destroying what we have without any intervention from the outside.