Dr. Fozia Choudhary’s Experience as a UK GP

Hi All,

I just thought I would share my experience as a working GP. I appreciate that many of you will not become GPs. However, there appear to be some misconceptions about GPs. Hence, I thought I would share my experience.

 

Life as a GP

I work as a GP Partner along with 5 other GPs in a clinic where we have 10,000 registered patients. We train medical students, FY2 and GP trainees. Many of our FY2 (Foundation Year 2) doctors leave being converted to GP life. It’s a fantastic job and I feel privileged to be able to do it. MRCGP is mandatory. The UK has a severe shortage of GPs and the government are recruiting GPs from abroad so now is a good time to train as a GP.

 

You Are Your Own Boss

You are your own boss as a GP partner and decide how to structure your day in agreement with your other GP partners in the clinic. For instance, when my kids were younger I started work at 10 and now they’re older I start at 9. GP life is very flexible and family friendly.

GP is like having your own business. If you work hard and hit all targets you earn more. We have a yearly accountant meeting to discuss profits, etc. It’s totally different to working in a hospital; there you are an employee of the hospital. Here we are our own bosses because we’re self-employed, independent practitioners who agree to provide General Medical Services for a fee from the NHS. We recruit and employ our own staff. For example, nurses, receptionist etc. Our Practice manager runs the whole operation smoothly, looking at ways we can improve our clinical care; how to increase profit, managing staff, etc and leaving us to concentrate on patients.

 

Four-Days-a-Week is Full Time

For most GPs 4 days = full-time. So good work-life balance. Plus you can arrange with your partners when you want to start work and how you want to work over the week. That’s not possible elsewhere in the NHS.

 

Rewarding

It’s rewarding. You cultivate a rewarding relationship with your patients over a lifetime and the other GPs in your clinic end up being life-long friends as you’re with them until you retire usually.

 

Our Day

I see 10 patients @ 15minute appointments over two and a half hours. I do a session in the morning followed by lunch. Then a two-and-a-half-hour session in the afternoon. Probably about an hour for admin type work. So it’s less onerous than hospital work. I work 6 sessions spread over 4 days. So I work 2 full days and 2 half days where I finish at 1 pm. I have 1 day off a week like my colleagues. The male doctors in our practice choose to work 8 sessions over 4 days which we deem as full-time. Plus the best bit is NO on-call in the evenings or weekends ever!

 

Never Boring

Life as a GP is never boring as you never know what patients will present with. On a typical day, I could be managing palliative symptoms in a cancer patient, obstetric complications, a depressed patient, a patient with chronic kidney disease, a case of sepsis etc. It’s a true Generalist role and mentally challenging as patients are living longer with more complex conditions/polypharmacy and this is why my job never bores me.

 

Job Satisfaction

We have the means to investigate fully so the job is very satisfying. For example, if a patient presents with back pain, I can arrange blood tests or MRI and interpret the results and decide if physiotherapy, Neurosurgery or pain management is appropriate. I only refer to hospital for emergencies or to out-patients for further specialist treatment. The job keeps you on your toes; you have to keep up to date with developments and guidelines in all areas like cardiology, paediatrics, ENT, diabetes, etc.

 

Specialization and Other Interests

You can specialise in areas you’re interested in. I did a post-graduate course in Diabetes and run a diabetic clinic in-house and manage over 90% of our diabetic patients. Other colleagues do minor surgery and joint injections, contraception clinics etc. Furthermore, if you trained in a different speciality before becoming a GP then you can still work one session in hospital. One of my friends did dermatology before becoming a GP and still does one outpatient clinic to keep her interest/skills.

 

Part-Time

Some GP’s work part-time and do other stuff like teaching at medical school, getting involved with politics such as work with CCGs, etc. Hence the term Portfolio GPs.

 

Pay Scales

It’s very well paid considering the hours you work and no on-call. Full-time partners can earn over £150,000 gross.

 

Annual Leaves

We get 38 days annual leave, so that’s almost 8 weeks fully paid leave. In my opinion, that’s better paid and less work than NHS consultants where you work as an employee and follow hospital working patterns as in working 5 days a week, 9 to 5 plus on call.

 

Early Retirement

You can retire early in your late 50s as our senior partner will be doing, collect your NHS pension lump sum and then return 24 hours later on full pay and a pension. Many GPs retire and then work as locums, doing a few locums when it suits them to keep their hand in and to earn extra on top of their pensions.

 

Locum Work

You can do locum work outside your own clinic and work lucrative shifts if you want to earn extra for a holiday etc. I don’t do locums but many of my friends do. They earn a £100 per hour seeing 4 patients per hour. So if you did a 6-hour locum on Saturday and Sunday then that’s £1200 for a weekend’s work.

 

Higher Locum Rate

You get paid 1.5 times the rate if you work Christmas or bank holidays as a Locum. So not bad at £150 per hour to see 4 patients who present with acute illnesses such as a simple cold, UTI, etc. If they present with any non-urgent or chronic conditions then you ask them to see their own GP during office hours in the week. So it’s easy and lucrative work doing locum work.

 

Locum As a Primary Job

Many GPs choose not to work as partners in one clinic. They work as locums only, filling in sessions for other GPs if they are short staffed or doing out of hours work. My brother does this as he likes the freedom of locum work and the fact you have virtually no admin type work to do. GP shortage means locum work will always be lucrative.

 

Continued Education

CPD or Continuing Professional Development. You have to do 50 hours education per year as part of your annual appraisal. It’s easy to do as there are lots of drug-sponsored conferences, local meetings, online stuff, internal audits, etc.

Another GP ( Appraiser) meets you once a year to go through your folder and, to be honest, it is like having a friendly chat – nothing stressful. They cannot fail you unless you do no educational stuff at all or end up doing something illegal.

 

Cons

None! Apart from ever-increasing paperwork and patient demands which are universal!

Wishing all of you much success with PLAB and your future careers. I can not compare to other countries but, in my opinion, life as a GP is very rewarding here in the UK. You will not regret your decision!

The author is a practicing GP in the NHS.

 

Useful Links

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is GP Specialty Training?

GP Specialty Training or GP ST is a three-year training programme for becoming a General Practitioner in the UK. It includes 18 months of training at the hospital and 18 months of training at an approved GP practice. You can read more about it here.

2. What is the process of applying for GP ST?

You can read a very helpful article about this on the Emedica website here or you can read about it on the official GP ST website here.

3. What is it like to work as a GP in the UK?

You can read about Dr. Fozia Chaudhary’s experience of working as a GP in the UK by clicking here.

4. What is meant by a portfolio GP?

Any GP who has multiple jobs or performs multiple types of work is a portfolio GP. You can read more about it here in an article written by Dr. Mahibur Rahman.

5. What is meant by GPs with Extended Roles (GPwER) or GPs with Special Interests (GPwSI)?

GPs with Extended Roles or GPwER are GPs with additional experience and training in specific clinical areas. They can take referrals from other doctors and assess or treat patients within their specialist interest.

An appointment with GPwER might be arranged in less time compared to arranging an appointment with a specialist at the hospital. GPwER can also be closer to home for the patients.

The term GPwER includes those previously referred to as GPs with Special Interests or GPwSI. You can read more about GPwER here.

6. What is the difference between a GP partner and a salaried GP?

A GP partner is a part of the business and shares the profits or losses in the business. A salaried GP is not involved in the business and is employed by the practice as a salaried individual.

4 thoughts on “Dr. Fozia Choudhary’s Experience as a UK GP

  1. Sorry to say but, full time GP pay over 150k, only seeing 10 pt witb 15 mint per appt and hourly rate of 150/ hour as locum or bank holidays this is way too good. Where in uk a gp gets paid like this, please tell us 🙂

  2. Hello! If you don’t mind me asking – how did you become a GP in the UK? Did you complete your GP training in the UK or had you completed your GP training in your home country and applied for prior training to be recognised?

  3. Hi u would like to ask the best route to becoming a gp once uve passed plab2 and done a nontraining job?I read the articles on getting a core training..is it the same for gp training as well?

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