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Tens of thousands of GPs on brink of early retirement, BMA finds

A major BMA survey has revealed that six in ten GPs are considering early retirement and more than half say their morale is either ‘low’ or ‘very low’, in findings that will form the core of the profession’s fight back against Government cuts to general practice.

The survey, which involved 420 GP respondents, also revealed that almost half the respondents having already made changes or planning to make changes to their work life balance.  

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said he would use the ‘shocking’ results to lobby ministers on the impact of the ongoing drive to keep patients out of hospital, and highlight how funding cuts are threatening to overwhelm general practice.

A separate RCGP poll of patients showed almost two-thirds of respondents believe the sheer volume of consultations taking place are a threat to patient care. RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said over the weekend that general practice is in real danger of ‘extinction’.

Pulse recently revealed that GPs in some parts of England are currently working for free as a result of the changes made by the imposed 2013/14 GP contract, and a series of below inflation pay uplifts. The 0.28% pay uplift for 2014/15 has also reduced the morale of GPs.

The survey, which the BMA said is accurate to within 3.3% at a 95% confidence level, found that 56.8% had considered retiring early, while 27.7% had thought of leaving the profession.

Furthermore, 47% said they had already made changes, or are in the process of planning for a change to their work life balance. Only 14.1% said they had not considered a move away from their current role.

When asked how they would describe their current level of morale, 39% answered ‘low’, and 16% said ‘very low’. Only 1% said it was ‘very high’, while 13% said it was ‘high’.

It also found that 54.1% of GPs described their current workload as ‘unmanageable or unsustainable’.

Dr Nagpaul said general practice was in danger of becoming ‘overwhelmed’.

He told Pulse: ‘It is shocking that so many GPs intend to retire early. The Government has to act to retain the workforce – by making the workload manageable and providing enough resources. GPs are overstretched and overwhelmed, and there is not the capacity to deal with the volume of work that is moving out of hospital.’

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘We are seeing morale dip to a level that I cannot remember in my 25 years as a GP.’

One survey respondent, Norfolk-based GP Dr John Harris-Hall, said of his decision to retire early: ‘The increasing demand and workload pressure are leading to low morale and stress, causing many GPs like myself to leave the profession. I am sad to retire early but I feel there is no other choice. Enough is enough.’

The RCGP poll of 1,007 patients found that 62% believe that the number of patient consultations GPs conduct each day – which the RCGP estimated at between 40-60 in most cases – is a threat to the standard of care they can provide to patients.

The poll, conducted by ComRes, also found that 28% of those surveyed could not get an appointment in the same week when they last tried to book an appointment.

Dr Baker said: ‘General practice as we know it is now under severe threat of extinction. It is imploding faster than people realise and patients are already bearing the brunt of the problem. This will only get worse unless urgent action is taken to redress the huge and historic imbalance in funding.’

Related images

  • Dr Chaand Nagpaul 2013 - online

Readers' comments (134)

  • Unfortunately, if you spin this through the national press then the outcome will be the same as Anon-11:19.

    Jealousy that GPs can retire early rather than fear of a primary care collapse.

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  • Easy to stop them retiring just take away there fat cat pensions paid by the struggling tax payer. And yes I do reed the Daily mail.

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  • This is not thought through at all. What would be the point in putting more money into primary care as there are not GPs to recruit?
    The government has made it clear it is not spending more on primary care until it can work at larger scale. This is the issue which needs to be addressed not simply asking for more money

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  • Anon 11:28 - yes, I can see you do infact "reed" the daily mail!

    We need 2 different fundings. One is to sustain what we already provide i.e. Money in keeping with inflation and rise in clinical activities. Without this rise you would have to accept the service will decrease. The other is investment to improve service. This will have to happen in addition to the above. There is only so much we can improve care with innovation and efficiency.

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  • We can`t fight with the media against us. Including the " non- bias" BBC, who rarely put GP`s in a good light, or tuck the story away like this-Note the Bias in the Health correspondents blurb.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26703519

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  • Interesting, all this bluster but no-one advocating the traditional way of getting politicians to listen-industrial action.
    The fault, dear Brutus, lies in ourselves...............

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  • "Easy to stop them retiring just take away there fat cat pensions paid by the struggling tax payer. And yes I do reed the Daily mail".

    Cant spell, no idea about grammar and no idea that GPs finance their pension entirely themselves, the tax payer is not involved. Dementia screening might be a good idea after all.

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  • Could a boycott of OOH work be organised ? It's not contracted work, it would be a high visibility protest and would likely have a rapid effect as A+E gets embarrassingly busy. According to the daily mail we don't do this work anyway so who would they blame .

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  • 11.28. What does everyone else in society owe you??...answer....NOTHING. You are "entitled" to NOTHING. Your deluded sense of entitlement is not only baffling but perhaps indicates a personality disorder??

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