The uncertain future of general practice in the NHS was one of the factors that made Kevin Ling switch to the private sector.

He spent two years doing locums in a wide range of practices before joining Medicentre, a chain of private clinics run by Sinclair Montrose. He is now clinical director and most of his work is administrative - although he does try to do an occasional clinical session.

'The NHS just did not suit me,' says 32-year-old Dr Ling. 'It was very difficult to find a practice where there was some chance of consistency.'

He cites one practice where he trained which was in the throes of data collection before becoming fundholding. But with fundholding's abolition already on the horizon, all this effort could be wasted, he says.

'I have always felt that the private sector gave me more flexibility,' Dr Ling adds. 'I don't think that I could possibly be attracted back into the NHS.'