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Gold, incentives and meh

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)

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  • Dear General Public
    We do care for and about you very much. I am, so sorry that you are being "hodwinked" by The Daily Mail into hating GPs. Just like January sales remember the phrase "When they are gone, they are gone". If you end up looking for someone to blame, look no further than THE DAILY MAIL, the newspaper who like multi-millionaires and private healthcare for the rich and who ridicules and manipulates the man in the street in a cynical and predatory way.

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  • And PULSE magazine....have a backbone and allow these negative comments about The Daily Mail. "Man up" and stop grovelling.

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    Hopefully the focus will shift on retention and not just recruitment alone. The society does need the experience of older GPs.

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  • and these figures do not even include this who, like me, have already gone!

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Yup, well, Mrs G and I are off, as we've said. I gather the Daily Wail's take on it is that GPs should NOT retire but take into account their patients' wants and go back to working 24 hours.
    Jerks!

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  • Its no wonder we want to go when you have just signed away our seniority that we have worked 30 years for! Hardly motivating to stay and work I think

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  • GPs really need to work together to publicise themselves better.

    The public at large do not undestand the subtleties of the contracts and responsibilites. As long as this confusion remains they will always be an easy target in the press.

    Like increments for the NHS, nobody understands really understood whether it was a pay rise or a withholding of pay based on experience, so any industrial action would be laughed down.

    Pick your fights, don't get dragged into Daily Mail mudslinging.

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  • Bob Hodges

    I'm starting to feel that the coming catastrophic collapse of NHS is a preice worth paying to see the look on the faces of the Daily Mail Readership.

    Schadenfreude Enhanced Service!

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