I was a senior partner working eight sessions a week. We lost ten sessions due to retirement of fellow partners, and – despite advertising for it – no potential replacements applied for the job.
As a result, I was working 14 hour days and it started to affect my health. It wasn’t just treating patients but managing a small business.
I had high stress levels within the partnership due to demand far exceeding capacity. I took sick leave with depression, which put more stress on partners and increased likelihood of disharmony within a partnership.
There is a huge issue with recruitment and retention of GPs in N Wales and several practices have handed contracts back to the health board, which has had to take over the running of these practices.
Partly because of this, the medical director of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Dr Chris Stockport, developed a new concept for providing primary care. The board advertised for experienced GPs to work salaried within the new ‘Healthy Prestatyn’ team – which took over three medical practices.
It uses teams consisting of GPs, advance nurse practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physios etc, with a team coordinator and approach that sees the most appropriate HCP for needs.
I started in April, and it is early days but I’m working fewer hours and surgeries now deal with those more complex multi morbidity patients who need the skills of a GP.
I no longer have to deal with management issues and I get my salary paid monthly. My indemnity is also paid. It is almost the same income as partner but there are less hours and less worry.
I’m very sad had to make move but I had no option really for my health long term. Partnerships have been deprived adequate funding for years and the job now is so demanding and exhausting that it is putting new medics off.
There are many benefits to independent contractor status – a fully salaried workforce paid peanuts would be a disaster.
But partnerships cannot continue in their current form. I’m glad I made the swap – it’s the best move I’ve made.
Dr Gill Breese is a salaried GP in north Wales