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How to ... Approach finding a salaried post

Salaried GP Dr Osman Bhatti considers the current jobs market and employment terms and conditions.

In the current tough recruitment climate many newly qualified GPs face difficulties finding a salaried post.

While it may be tempting to take any job offered, it is advisable to check the terms and conditions are in line with the 'Model terms and conditions for a salaried general practitioner'. GMS and primary care organisation (PCO) employers must offer these minimum terms but PMS and APMS practices are not obliged to.

"Being trained locally gave me some insight into the local issues and pitfalls that were around" Dr Osman Bhatti (pictured)

Your needs
Does the area matter? Deprived populations can be as challenging as 'posh patients' with their internet printouts.

How far are you prepared to travel to work? Are you looking for a full-time or part-time post?

These days most GPs starting their careers seem to work part-time in two or three different practices at first. Do you have commitments such as young children or other work that could impact on a salaried job?

Career development
Try to have a plan for where you want to be in, say, five years time. In the same job, salaried elsewhere or in a GP principal position? Consider the patient demographic you want to treat during your career and what kind of practice team you would like to work in. Think about what gives you job satisfaction.

Although being an employee enables you to avoid practice management commitments, salaried GPs increasingly find themselves getting more involved in them. While this builds up your skills, remember you are paid less than a principal and have fixed working hours.

Contract terms
Under the model contract full time means your working week is 37.5 hours (nine sessions of four hours 10 minutes). One session (pro rata for part-timers) should be for professional development. Annual leave should be six weeks (pro rata if part-time).

Check if you can contribute to the NHS Pension Scheme. You will not be able to if employed by an APMS contractor who is not a NHS or GP provider.

You should be allowed adequate time during working hours for your annual GP appraisal including at least six hours to prepare. Generally a good practice will allocate three sessions for this.

Salary level
Pay is a thorny issue and it may be difficult to identify the going rate for a particular area.

The Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) recommended a basic minimum salary range for 2008/9 of £52,462 to £79,167 for a full-time salaried GP. Make sure your contract states that you will receive any DDRB annual pay uplift.

Job hunting
When applying for a job, ensure that you are armed with the latest BMA model contract, an up to date CV, current medical defence membership, GMC registration and Criminal Records Bureau certificates as well as ensuring that you are on a PCO's performers' list.

Find out as much as possible about what is involved on a day-to-day basis. Most applicants find that what they really want to know are things like the length of a clinical session, the number of appointment slots, visits and what extended hours the practice offers.

How and when is time allocated for reviewing test results and repeat prescriptions? Attending practice meetings should be part of your normal hours.

Help and support
PMS and APMS providers often omit from contract terms matters such as sick leave, maternity leave and salary uplifts. If you have difficulty with contract negotiations, the BMA and the local LMC can offer guidance.

Once you are employed, try to mix with your peers by contacting other salaried GPs and starting a local support group. This is a good way to learn about upcoming jobs.

  • Dr Bhatti is a GP in East London and chairs his local salaried GPs group. He is also a member of our GP 35 panel
My GP career so far
Having completed my registrar training three years ago, I initially contacted local practices via email. Doing this eventually led to three offers of part-time work. Being trained locally gave me some insight into the local issues and pitfalls that were around.

I accepted two posts - each for four sessions a week at two practices. I was then fortunate enough to be offered a full-time salaried post by one of the two practices - a PMS provider.

I joined the local salaried GP group that meets regularly. It has a strong voice and has four representatives on the LMC. I applied to be a representative and was elected.

I also looked at local clinical leads work and dropped a clinical session to become the local clinical IT lead for the PCT. I dropped a further session when I became one of the local programme directors for the GP vocational training scheme. I now do seven clinical sessions a week. I consider myself well-established in my career but would like to be a GP principal. But no opportunities to apply to join local GP partnerships have arisen locally.


RESOURCES

  • GPC guidance: Focus on salaried GPs.
  • Model terms and conditions for a salaried general practitioner employed by a GMS practice.
  • Model terms and conditions for a salaried general practitioner employed by a primary care trust.

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