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In a recruitment crisis, why are practices turning GPs away?

In a recruitment crisis, why are practices turning GPs away?

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area, the move required some adjustment: new practices, new hospitals, new referral processes and, seemingly, an outdated way of thinking.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.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Karen Potterton 8 February, 2023 9:02 pm

If you don’t want partnership then you should accept that ACPs can do your job for alot less money, love 😎. It’s not the forward thinking practices that are taking on salaried GPs, it’s exactly the opposite. Locum ACPs are also excellent and cheaper than Locum GPs. I agree with you in every aspect except where you think you are a competitive job candidate.

Sujoy Biswas 8 February, 2023 9:11 pm

I suspect they wanted a partner and advertised for one. It’s fair enough they wanted a partner who is able to take responsibility for running the place you didn’t. Best you both move on they did nothing wrong.

Bob Hodges 9 February, 2023 8:21 am

I suspect that, like our practice in the South West, practices are are advertising because they have a SPECIFIC need for a partner.

If you have that specific need, you’re not just looking for someone to see patients. That’s the ‘easy’ bit of being a GP, because it’s the bit we’re trained to do and bit that’s still enjoyable most of the time.

Andrew Peacock 10 February, 2023 6:00 pm

As a partner myself I am surprised to see the amount of adverts out there for a new partner rather than salaried with a view to… I would never enter into a business with someone I hadn’t worked with as a salaried GP first. Perhaps beggars can’t be choosers but the author’s point about reading the market is the key to this article. ACP’s are indeed cheaper than salaried GP’s but very few salaried or locum GP’s would want to jump straight to partnership in a new practice. If current partners wish to bolster their ranks and share the risks of partnership we should be advertising in a very different way to how we did 10-20 years ago.

David Church 11 February, 2023 10:16 am

I would strongly agree that it would be better to get to know practices locally, especially if you are new to the area, before taking on a Partnership commitment.
Yes, some practices specifically need a Partner ‘NOW’, but even those, you would think they could offer a fixed-term ‘with a view to Partnership’ arrangement of some kind.
It certainly used to be possible 20-30 years ago, so why not now?
And anyone who says you will get a huge bonus when the government takes over all practices in the near future – is making promisses they will break : we do not know WHEN, and we do not know how generously they will do so!

Keith M Laycock 13 February, 2023 1:46 am

In the good-old-bad-old days, a hopeful GP was taken on by an established practice on the the basis of “With a view to …” joining the practice permanently. Usually the ‘trial’ period was 6 to 12 months and then, assuming that all was sympatico, an offer to join the practice as a ‘junior’ partner was offered …. the basis being that over 2-3 years full parity was worked towards.

Served me well all those years ago. Can’t see why it wouldn’t work now.

Becoming a Partner at once could be compared to getting married after the first date – easy to get spliced, not so easy to get unspliced.

Paul Burgess 13 February, 2023 9:57 am

Looking at your last sentence; I don’t think we *are* a collective. We all want different things depending on our circumstances and the situation of a particular practice and it’s demographic and ethos. And the govt can exploit this quite easily.

A Non 15 February, 2023 3:52 pm

Karen. APC’s are indeed great but they aren’t the same as Drs. Unless you are one in which case go ahead, buy into the story and glory in ‘forward thinking practices’ apparently expecting you to perform the role of a fully trained Dr for a fraction of the pay.

A Non 15 February, 2023 3:53 pm

ACP APC ..who cares really. No disrespect intended. I think your great