A new GP’s guide to the UK job market

As a newly qualified general practitioner (GP), navigating the UK job market can be both overwhelming and highly rewarding. Where do you start and which job is right for you? There is plenty of space for growth and opportunity, but you first need to decide what your future as a GP looks like!

The GP job market is continuously evolving, similar to the healthcare industry itself, so keeping tabs on the industry can help you find your way to the best path for your career. With the right knowledge, skills and expert guidance, you can find a rewarding position that meets your professional and personal needs.

What is the state of the UK job market for newly qualified GPs?

For new GPs in the UK, the job market offers both opportunities and challenges, necessitating flexibility and proactive networking due to the competitive nature and evolving landscape of primary care employment. As a result, finding the right salaried position or locum opportunities can be difficult if you have unrealistic expectations or are unaware of the market you are entering. Additionally, making choices about your ideal career progression can be stressful, so you will need to be strategic and flexible when positioning yourself for available roles.

Although GPs are needed, prohibitive budgets and available vacancies in the National Health System (NHS) and private GP practices can prove to be challenging, so you will need to be realistic and think about what employers are looking for.

Being flexible and adaptable

It is crucial to be flexible when entering the job market as a newly qualified GP. The competition for salaried and locum GP posts is intense, so being flexible improves your chances of securing your ideal job. Here are a few ways to stay adaptable:

  • Be willing to travel: sometimes the best opportunities are a bit further afield. Don’t limit yourself to your immediate area.
  • Flexibility in pay rates: being open to different pay rates can make you a more attractive candidate. Having a range in mind and discussing employer budgets for a role allows realistic expectations.
  • Adapt to new ways of working: practices may have different systems and approaches. Being open to learning and adapting can set you apart.

Building your network

Networking is a powerful tool in the job market. Staying connected with your former colleagues and fellow GPs can provide valuable insights and opportunities. Consider these tips:

  • Stay in touch with your cohort and mentors.
  • Attend professional events and seminars.
  • Join online forums and social media groups for UK GPs.

It’s important to also visit local practices during your job search to get a ‘real feel’ of the environment and get to know the local healthcare community. Maintaining a strong network lets you stay informed about job openings and gain advice from experienced professionals. Furthermore, when you are recommended for a position, it is a great way to stand out from other applicants.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is actively working to improve working conditions and resources for GPs. This advocacy may lead to potential changes that could lead to significant improvement in the job market for new and established GPs. Keeping up to date with these developments can help you navigate the job market more effectively.

Steps to secure your first GP position in the UK

Securing your place in the UK job market may feel like jumping into the deep end at first, but by preparing in advance and getting to know the market you create a proactive mindset for finding your first GP position. From understanding the application and interview process to contracts and continuing professional development (CPD), these easy steps can carve your path to a secure future as a GP.

Step 1: Mastering your application and interview process

Your CV is your chance to make a good first impression on any employer or recruiter. Ensuring that your CV is updated and formatted for easy screening is a high priority. Knowing about the technology and processes used for screening and applications will also give you an advantage.

  1. Perfecting your CV and cover letter: customise your CV and cover letter for each job. Highlight relevant skills and experiences that match the job description and include keywords in the event that the employer is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen CVs. Lastly, always proofread and format your CV to make sure it is easy to read.
  2. Prepare for your interviews: start by researching the practice to understand their values and patient demographics. Practice common questions that you will get in a GP interview and prepare your own questions for the interviewer. Lastly, send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for considering you and highlighting key discussion points from the interview.
  3. Using digital tools to your advantage: you can streamline your search by using apps and websites that focus on job searches and vacancies. Websites like MCG Healthcare and NHS Jobs can provide you with a variety of job listings and resources. Additionally, professional networks on platforms like LinkedIn can help you discover opportunities and connect with recruiters.

A practice may also request an in-person or Zoom call after the interview process. This is a great opportunity to get an initial feel for your potential workplace. Visiting a practice in advance will also allow you to see if you enjoy the work environment and the people before deciding to work there.

Step 2: Understanding contracts and offers as a newly qualified GP

If your interview is successful, you will be sent an offer and then a contract if you choose to accept the offer. Remember to carefully consider your options and what you really want before accepting the first offer you get.

As the UK job market shifts, so do the terms and the types of contracts offered to you in different positions. To keep track of this you will need to be aware of contract terms and conditions that can significantly impact your job satisfaction and professional growth, depending on your needs.

  • Salaried positions: these are permanent roles where you will work directly for a practice, receiving a steady salary and benefits such as sick leave and pension contributions. While salaried positions may come with more work and less flexibility this position offers much more stability.
  • Partnerships: you become a practice co-owner, sharing profits and responsibilities. When you join a partnership, you will have more administrative and financial obligations, but at the same time, it can be incredibly rewarding financially and personally, allowing for more control over your career.
  • Locum work: locum positions are temporary roles where you fill in for GPs on leave. Locum positions may not offer you consistency or long-term benefits, but they do offer flexibility and variety, allowing you to work in different settings and areas.

Understanding these contract types is essential because each one affects your work-life balance, financial stability and career development differently. Choosing the right type of contract.

When you’re offered a contract, it’s crucial to negotiate the terms to ensure they meet your needs. Here are the main points to consider:

  • Salary: ensure the salary offered is aligned with your practical experience and the region. It is essential to research the market rates before trying to negotiate to avoid unrealistic expectations on both sides.
  • Working hours: clarify the expected working hours and on-call duties. Ensure these fit with your lifestyle and commitments.
  • Leave entitlements: understand your annual leave and sick leave entitlements. Check if they are adequate for maintaining your work-life balance.
  • Professional development: ensure the contract includes provisions for professional development, such as funding for courses and time off for training, if these are important to you.
  • Job role and responsibilities: make sure the job role and responsibilities are clearly defined and manageable. This can prevent misunderstandings and ensure you’re not overburdened.

Checking the terms and conditions of your employment will allow you to understand the expectations of your potential employer and ensure that you are fully aware of what you will be committing to for the foreseeable future.

Step 3: Continuing to better yourself, professionally

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is crucial for career growth and job satisfaction. Engaging in regular training and education helps you stay updated with medical advancements and improves your clinical skills.

You can do so by earning advanced digital badges, taking courses or enrolling in training programmes like speciality training or even in-house training offered by your potential employer. These developments will not only make you a better candidate but may give you more insight into the type of GP you wish to be.

Consider specialising in areas that interest you and are in high demand, such as geriatrics, dermatology or mental health. Specialisation can open additional career opportunities and increase your value as a healthcare provider. By having a niche interest, you can narrow your searches and take relevant steps for your career progression.

Navigating the new GP job market in the UK requires a strategic approach, flexibility and a willingness to build and leverage your professional network. Stay informed about industry developments and be proactive in your job search and career development.

Succeeding in the UK job market with MCG Healthcare

As a newly qualified GP getting ready to enter the UK job market, doing everything on your own can be a lot to handle. Partnering with MCG Healthcare takes the hassle out of your search. You’ll get access to industry experts who will work closely with you to understand your needs and aspirations so that we can place you in a GP role that unlocks your full potential in the UK healthcare industry.

Start your GP career here!



About the author
Piers Le-Grand Managing Consultant

Piers specialises in placing General Practitioners on a salaried and locum basis throughout the UK. With over 7 years’ experience in recruitment, Piers has found success by building strong relationships, delivering a professional service and keeping to the MCG values- be “GREAT”.

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