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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)

  • One huge reason for the enormous workload is the vast shift of chronic illness management from hospital to primary care without the resources following. Why is this not quantified and publicised. Extra funding would be spent on larger premises filled with more GPS working at a safer pace. Any collapse of General practice would see this work go back to hospital at a vastly greater cost.

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  • 5.39pm - this is the whole point. The NHS wants to bring work out of hospital but to larger primary care units not the small practices which exist today. There are lots of financial resources available

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  • HMO's would require 3x the number of Gp's just to cover sick leave . We can all sign each other off work .

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  • Will the last doctor to leave General Practice please turn out the lights.

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  • Una Coales

    HMOs may own the acute hospitals too. The insurance premiums limit what pts may be referred for without paying a top up. The more your premium, the more coverage. Any referral needs pre approval from a central HMO referral unit. If you think the NHS is tough as a gatekeeper, wait until you work for a HMO. You will be the one telling pts that the central referral unit declined a referral request or wishes to charge the pt ££££ extra.

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  • Una Coales

    @5:44 pm sick notes for HMO GPs? You forgot the unilateral variation rule of salaried GP contracts. Too many days off sick and a contract can be unilaterally rewritten to make your pay so tiny you would need a magnifying glass to read the fine print.

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  • So we keep writing sick notes and see who cracks first .

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  • Why don`t we take an action day?
    Not strike action- but a day of just telling our patients how much it would cost them to see a Dr if it all fails. knowing it would be say x pounds to see a Dr, and y pounds for the private script, just as it does to see a dentist. If several GP`s did that and had a campaign to say Gp`s are in danger of going bankrupt/recruiting/burnout , and this is what could happen, that may work.
    Oh and to the Dily Mail troll , please go away this is a profesiionals forum.

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  • Cheer up and google"the daily mail song" by dan&dan it not just us that thinks it is a useless rag

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  • Una Coales

    I am in full support of BMA industrial action! The GPs of 1966 were brave enough to threaten to all leave the NHS for private practice and were rewarded by PM Harold Wilson with a 30% increase in pay and a 1966 Doctors' Charter.

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