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    Home-working: A permanent fixture in General Practice

    By Matthew Okey

    Home-working

    Home-working revolution has snowballed

    About a year ago, I wrote an article looking at whether home-working had a place in General Practice, following on from a couple of my clients piloting home-working as part of their working pattern. The conclusions I and my colleagues drew was that home-working would be a permanent fixture in General Practice but always more of an ancillary benefit rather than a status quo.

    A year on, the home-working revolution has snowballed at a striking pace.

    At the time of writing, I am half-way through a project to recruit 30+ home-based GPs for an entire CCG. The idea being that the non-profit working in partnership with the CCG acts almost like a locum agency; middle-manning the GPs – who are based all over the country – out to the various surgeries within the CCG.

    The difference between them and a locum agency however is that the GPs are permanently employed by the non-profit, on NHS terms and a BMA contract. They are Salaried GPs, working exclusively in the NHS, but simply employed by a 3rd party. GPs in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Devon and Dorset – all consulting remotely for surgeries across this 64 practice CCG in the south-west of England.

    Dedicated home-based GP positions

    Initially universally seen as revolutionary amongst the team here at Menlo Park… just three months on from the embryonic stage of this project and three of my colleagues are also now working on dedicated home-based GP positions, with clients ranging from private companies (of the BabylonGP and DoctorCareAnywhere ilks) to NHS practices directly employing remote clinicians, suggesting a shift from revolutionary to commonplace in just a few months.

    How long until each of us are handling two, three, five of these projects each? How long until say, half, of all the roles we handle incorporate some or full-time remote working? Is the age of seeing your GP face-to-face dead?

    working from home

    Home-working here to stay

    Well, as evident as it is that home-working is here to stay and very much a permanent fixture of a technologically evolving sector, there is plenty of reason to remain optimistic about the age-old ways of General Practice living on for some time yet.

    Of the 15 or so GPs I’ve recruited for the south-west CCG so far, just three are taking on the post as their primary employment, with all three citing the need for flexibility around childcare as the primary factor in pursuing a home-based role.

    The dozen other GPs have committed to anything from one to four sessions, but each of those GPs is already a Salaried GP, Partner GP or GPwSI in a specialist clinic or hospital. These are GPs that want to work more (contrary to the continual lambasting in the media about our supposedly work-shy family doctors) but who wish for greater flexibility, variety in their working week or simply need the income but cannot maintain the demands heaped on them by ever-increasing workload and stress levels in day-to-day General Practice.

    Contrary to being seen as a danger to the values and principles of General Practice, as well as the effectiveness – the media has also sensationalised the apparent inability to diagnose patients remotely when this is anything but the case – roles like the one I’ve been working on, as well as those my colleagues are handling, should be seen as the saviour of General Practice.

    Giving GPs flexibility

    A bold statement, I know, but by giving these GPs the flexibility in their weeks to spend more time with their children or simply giving them more variety or work/life balance, we are actually keeping them in their primary, in-practice position for longer than they may have been otherwise. Without these options, they may have left General Practice altogether. The daily newspapers reported just earlier this month that a third of GPs want to quite General Practice within the next five years, a figure that if realised would hobble the profession and bring the NHS to its knees.

    So I ask you, which is the better option? A GP working two days in their local surgery who tops that up with one or two days of remote working; as a result of the work/life balance they are now afforded, stays in their surgery post for the next ten years. Or, (and increasingly realistically) a GP working eight sessions in their local surgery who is burnt out and leaves the NHS in three?

    It’s time to embrace the home-working revolution.

    Read our reviews!

    “Menlo Park and Matthew in particular provided 2 excellent candidates in our search for new salaried GPs at our practice. It had been sometime since we had recruited and had never used an agency before so we weren’t sure what to expect.

    Matt provided us with 2 fantastic candidates who we have now recruited to be part of our team and both are settling into their new roles well.

    We’d recommend Menlo Park based on the quality of candidates and the service provide by Matt and the team, thankyou!”

    Colin Robson | Practice Manager

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