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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)

  • After our CCG chairman resigned there was only one person willing to take over so there has been no election or vote.

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  • When general practice collapses and Is taken over by large private organisations, who will be on the PCC boards? As employees of these companies will their decisions be determined or influenced by their employers?
    In other words, has the government actually devised a fiendish plan whereby private companies can take over the running of the local NHS as well as the provision of services?

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  • The sooner it all fails, the better...

    If the public think they are getting poor value for money with us lazy overpaid GPs, let's allow the market to dictate the rate.

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  • In our CCG there was one 'surplus' candidate who was a bit too divisive for the leaders so he was filtered out through an interview process. No election required afterwards. That's what I call probity, or does it fall into the 'dealing with complex problems' section?
    CCG idea is rubbish.

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  • 7.24 again...
    Interestingly enough, I have been told that another candidate was considered to be " not appropriate" leaving the only other volunteer to be appointed without election.

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  • @Anonymous | 24 March 2014 11:31pm
    I completely agree with you. The opinion of the general public is rapidly becoming irrelevant to grass roots GPs (the very ones who see the patients in the first place).
    Many of us are prepared to be over-regulated by the GMC , CQC, revalidation teams and performer's lists. We are also prepared to work long hours, take the medicolegal risks involved and keep performance and skills up-to-date (usually at our own cost and in our own time).

    We don't do the above because we want plaudits or thanks from the general public. Most GPs do it because we take pride in our jobs that took years of training.

    This doesn't mean we don't want to be fairly paid for the work I do. Money is only part of the equation in job satisfaction. Unreasonable workload demands have reduced general practice to a job that is neither fulfilling nor enjoyable. The job has a devastating effect on family life and the reduced funding makes this all the more intolerable. Whether patients think we are currently doing a good job or not makes no difference as their expectation is for much more than we are funded to provide.

    Like so many commentators have said I think it is time we withdrew from the NHS en masse. Either that or let the Government bring on the collapse of primary care quickly. GPs will be sorely missed when we are gone and I for one suspect that we will be better off emotionally and financially out of the current system.

    A free market will reveal the true cost and value of our services!

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  • some say fat cat pensions others too much work -so what is the solution to stopping the exodus a £150 k salary like nigel Watson says?

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  • not sure about CCG work - anyone had any real change and not just wind from retired GPs supporting their old chaps?
    really had a shift of budgets and work as a significant part of the budget.
    our council asked money from cardiology to help reduce teenage smoking in pregnancy and reduce deaths in young drivers at night with speed bumps

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  • To reverse the loss of GPs you have to give them confidence in the future, that GPs are valued and supported. You have to stop the press denigrating us.

    At the moment we feel that the Government is trying to get rid of us, and is willing for us to suffer huge financial losses.

    Who would stay to go bankrupt ?

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  • General Practice is a bit like banking. Once you have lost the confidence that the bank is secure, there is a run on the bank.

    In General Practice, the doctors will race to retire.

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