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The things I miss most about partnership



It’s a year ago now since I hung up my partnership cap and became a salaried GP. There’s no doubt I am infinitely less stressed, exhausted and grumpy than I was as a partner. But it wouldn’t be fair to paint a rosy picture of life on the other side without acknowledging the positive aspects of partnership.

So I thought it would be a good idea to offer a more balanced view by reflecting on the things I miss about being a partner.

I miss the mafia… I mean family

Partnerships are just one big, happy and dysfunctional family. Like all families, even though they don’t always agree with each other, they look out for each other. And what with all the meetings, strategising, planning and socialising, it sometimes felt like I saw more of my partners than my actual family.

I miss having a voice

Even within the most inclusive and collaborative of practices, it is hard to steer the direction of travel unless you’re a partner. So whether a fully triaged access model has been foisted upon you, or you have been forced to stare at ugly blue curtains for the rest of your life, it’s frustrating no longer having a say.

I miss the innovation

Many large-scale quality improvements have been implemented through partnerships: mergers, overhaul of an access model, recruitment of alternative practitioners, and while some of these innovations have been driven by current climate, they still pave the way for new ways of thinking and working.

I miss being in the know

Even the most apolitical GP partner has an idea of what’s going on within the CCG and NHS England. In spite of being an LMC board director and a CCG clinical lead, there are still numerous things I am unaware of locally. So now I have to actually read a lot of the news in Pulse, rather than picking it up in meetings.

I miss being the boss

My kids think I’m bossy, probably for good reason. Anyone who knows me is aware I can’t sit back if I think something can be improved. I hold leadership positions in all my portfolio roles, so it feels a little strange to be taking a back seat in my clinical role.

I miss the cause

Fighting for partners’ rights in my LMC role is like being a rebel without a cause. I still fight against the work shift from secondary care and funding erosions, even though they no longer impact on me directly in the way they used to.

I miss the street cred

Let’s face it – huge kudos comes with being a GP partner. And in the present NHS crisis, the respect due to partners is akin to that accorded to the SAS or to a doctor working in an Ebola outbreak: people know the role requires huge grit and determination and are a little bit star struck by it.

So, maybe one day I will don that partnership cap again. But one thing’s for sure, it will be have to be in a culture where the respect mentioned above is matched by appropriate remuneration for all the dedication and sacrifice.

Somehow, I don’t think such a cultural shift will happen under Tory leadership, however chastened it may be.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol