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GP retirement timebomb ready to go off

By Christian Duffin

More than a fifth of GPs are planning to end their careers in the next five years as prophecies of a retirement timebomb look set to finally come true.

Increasing numbers of GPs are also planning to cut back on the number of sessions they work in response to the rising intensity of work and disillusionment with Government policy.

As many as 72% of GPs said they were now more likely to consider early retirement because of unpopular changes to general practice over the past two years.

Of the 500 GPs who responded to Pulse's survey, 21% said they would finish their careers within five years. And 34% said they planned to reduce their number of GP sessions over the same period, compared with 28% who reduced their number of sessions in the last five years.

Almost 90% of GPs believe workload has become heavier since the 2004 contract and 85% feel it has grown more complex.

Pulse's survey follows other recent indications of high GP retirement rates. BMA Scotland warned last month that one in five GPs planned to retire within 10 years. In January the Health and Safety Executive said six in 10 GPs planned to take early retirement.

Dr Fay Wilson, secretary of five LMCs in north-west London, said Government propaganda labelling GPs ‘idle and greedy' was driving some doctors to retire early. GPs were also disillusioned with paperwork demands and pay freezes, she added.

Dr Mark Hunt, a GP in Frome, Somerset, and managing director of Mercury Health, said fewer GPs would want to retire early if they could work for larger, privately run organisations, and so spend their time seeing patients rather than on admin.

‘A GP told me he wished someone would buy his practice so he could just be a salaried doctor. That's not unusual,' he said.

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