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Life to mean life for GPs

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Life to mean life for GPs

GPs will no longer be allowed to leave the profession, according to plans drawn up by the Department of Health. An imminent change of law will make it illegal to stop being a GP.

The move is expected to eliminate the current shortage of 5000 GPs within a few years.

The news follows a call from the Royal College of General Practitioners for urgent action to halt the exodus from general practice.  

Under the proposals expected to be announced by the government next week, the GP contract will become binding on both parties. A government spokesman said: “GPs have long enjoyed the protection of a contract for life, but they were free to end it at any time by quitting the profession, moving abroad or choosing to retire. These options will no longer be available. Life must mean life.”

From now on, GPs will be expected to practice until they die, with an option to work on after death open to those who wish to take national clinical posts, leadership roles in professional bodies or jobs with the Care Quality Commission.

Acknowledging that GPs would be unable to retire under the new rules, the government said that the benefits of stopping work in later life were “widely exaggerated”.

“All the evidence suggests that people who retire are more like to die before those who are still in work. On that basis forcing GPs to work until they drop may actually improve their life expectancy,” the spokesman said.

Ending GP retirements would have other benefits, including simplified funding and contractual arrangements for general practice, and a modest saving in pension contributions.

GPs will be expected to surrender their passports to remove the temptation to move overseas to work. They would also no longer be able to take holidays abroad, an objection dismissed by the Department of Health as “largely academic”.

The government accepts that not all GPs will welcome the changes, but said it had run out of options for ending the recruitment crisis. Incentive schemes giving GPs the opportunity to work longer hours, collaborate in more meaningful ways or meet helpful people with clipboards have had limited success.

Initiatives to recruit overseas doctors have also suffered setbacks. One ended in chaos earlier this week after an undercover team of NHS England recruitment officers tried to snatch an American doctor from a United Airlines flight, provoking a storm of criticism on social media.

The government says it is still considering other ways to “ease the supply” of new recruits, including a compulsory national service style scheme under which all school-leavers would work as a GP for two years.

“Not only would this be character building for the young people concerned, those who discovered an aptitude for clinical practice might choose to go on to get proper qualifications and stay in the profession,” said the spokesman.

High impact editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Apr 13, 2017 08:09 AM

This is great news for Senior Partners. They can employ salaried GP's to do the basic work and they earn the full salary, so no young GP will ever be a senior partner until the senior partner dies... This will surely fall fowl of restriction of trade practices. Who thinks up these idiotic ideas??

dr gavin jamie
dr gavin jamie says:
Apr 13, 2017 09:38 AM

Effectively this will be a "dead man's shoes" arrangement. Whilst this may disadvantage individual practices it will have a positive effect on the ratings for the BBC early afternoon soap "Doctors" as it starts to look much more like Game of Thrones.

Judy Aldred
Judy Aldred says:
Apr 13, 2017 09:04 AM

Simply genius. Not only very funny but a very workable solution. :)

Anonymous says:
Apr 13, 2017 09:44 AM

The way the retirement ages keep rising for State and NHS pensions, this week's jolly doesn't feel that wide of the mark. Who'd be a 25 y.o. old now??

Mr Ed Hogbin
Mr Ed Hogbin says:
Apr 13, 2017 09:56 AM

More pseudo-political claptrap from a "wannabe" journalist who thinks what he writes amounts to biting satire. GP practices have been depleted recently by baby boomer retirees and there is nothing wrong with allowing GPs to work beyond 60. It would be better if Mr Patterson concentrated on looking at real solutions to shortages of GPs. Here are some:-
Open GP training to those with lower A'level grades than currently (double the intake) but be prepared to fail more so that those without the right aptitude or adequate commitment can be weeded out before they see a patient.
Allow GPs (and other health care workers) to use a salary sacrifice scheme to allow then to take a year sabbatical between the ages of 50 and 60.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Apr 13, 2017 11:24 AM

Welcome back, Ed. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

Anonymous says:
Apr 13, 2017 11:30 AM

Accomplished journo Ed, not wannabe. Made me chuckle.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Apr 13, 2017 11:51 AM

Dear Anon, very kind. Thank you

Anonymous says:
Apr 14, 2017 09:36 AM

Sir, with regard to your reference for "an option to work on after death open to those who wish to take national clinical posts"; I understood that this concept has already been tested by offering the brain-dead high-level posts with professional bodies.

Committedly yours - Mr W, Scotland

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Apr 19, 2017 04:15 PM

Mr W,allegedly.