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GP numbers down because of 'millennial' working hours, says training chief

Young GPs are willing to work fewer hours than their older counterparts, resulting in the equivalent of 10% fewer doctors in the workforce, the head of HEE has said.

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, told delegates at NHS Confederation’s conference that the Government has had to revise down its estimates on the number of GPs in the workforce – as reported previously by Pulse.

But he added that this was partly due to the changes in working patterns for younger GPs.

Professor Cumming told delegates that GPs used to work on average the equivalent of 0.9 WTE, but this has dropped to 0.83 as more millennial GPs enter the workforce.

As a result of this, the number of full-time-equivalent doctors in the system has reduced.

He said: ‘Our workforce are choosing to work fewer hours. Part of this is because of generation Y and Z and millennials starting to come through, who are increasingly not wanting to work the same number of hours that many of the baby boomers and generation X want to work.’

The HEE chief executive said that the figures from NHS Digital mean that the NHS is getting 10% fewer clinical hours out of each GP over the past few years, which equates to 10% fewer GPs in the workforce.

Professor Cumming said: ‘Another way of putting that is you’re dealing with 10% more patients, you’re under 10% more pressure.’

The trend is likely to continue and grow, he added, ‘so we have to be mindful of that, that we aren’t getting the same number of hours out of every clinician as we used to’.

Professor Cumming also addressed the Government’s plan to increase the number of medical students by 1,500 by 2019.

He said 500 of those places have been allocated, with 1,000 more to start in 2019.

But he cautioned delegates not to get ‘carried away about the immediate benefits of that’, adding that it is ’11 years before these people are GPs’.

He said: ‘We need to do it because we need to get our workforce right but it’s not a short-term fix.’

Readers' comments (30)

  • I (millennial, full time) see typically 160 standard appointments, 25 emergency face to face appointments, 25 telephone appointments, 20 further emergency telephone appointments and 16 home visits in a week.

    I would like to know how that compares to a GP in 1987? I suspect it is not less.

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  • Are they trying to work out why the 'milenials' don't want to work the longer hours? What an absolute load of crap! It's not just the younger doctors who are cutting their hours. It's everyone, and the older doctors are passing the time until they can retire. Why don't you ask yourself why GPs are reducing their hours and cutting their pay? It's because the job has become impossible and we cut our hours to just survive. What complete and utter ignorance!!

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  • The more you work the more tax you pay.The way the NHS is going noone wants to carry the workload .more litigation. Patients are more demanding these days.They think GP has a magic wand and cure all the problems.

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  • Thanks Prof for that great insight. How many sessions did it take you to pontificate and develop such a helpful and constructive opinion? Fortunately you have taken the hard route into educational academia to get away from all those lazy family and life loving GPs. On behalf of GPs I thank you for your sacrifice that has certainly improved my understanding of GP workforce issues today.

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  • This non doctor is nothing more than a high priest of the spreadsheets, high flyer amongst those who generate reams of data whilst remaining blind to true knowledge.

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  • Now retired and wouldnt return under any circumstance. Its not the money its not the time its the unsafe relentless demand

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  • Seriously, what planet is this guy on?
    If he thinks that it is only millennials that are working fewer hours (but work intensity has mushroomed!) then he is naive.
    Back to the old attitude "in my day we worked 120 hour weeks and were grateful".
    Unhelpful and just plain wrong!

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    Patient demand and expectations.

    Pointless complaints - driven by cost cutting and services not available due to CCG austerity drives - and being hung out to dry.

    Ridiculous indemnity costs where working more especially OOH is cost negative once punitive tax rates kick in - so that you need a hole in the head to work more - Make all indemnity free as a starting point

    New Junior doctor training hours reduced to 40 hours - why work more once qualified? By making them work normal hours - the DOH has driven out the previous generations ability to cope with 100hr weeks, so the day job of a full time GP is too hard/stressful.

    Ramming CCG, federation and other non essential roles into the day means less hours to do core GP work.

    CQC and revalidation requirements.

    Picking up work unfunded and shoved out from Hospitals - takes time to do it.

    Increasing home visiting with complex elderly patients abandoned by hospitals into the community with inadequate care packages/provisions, needing lots of time.

    Don't shoot me! - however there is now a predominant female GP workforce with children - working part time to have a reasonable worklife/family balance - often working during just school term time and locuming.

    Increasing charges by PropCo and dropping of MPIG and PMS reviews.

    Need anyone go on!

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  • Ian Cumming clearly doesn't have any clue what working GP life is. I suppose the view of the ground is a bit blurred from way up in his Ivory Tower......muppet. I suggest we all regards his opinion with utter contempt and ignore all future diatribe that he may offer on any issue.

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  • I could work more hours but find that once MDO fees/tax/pension is factored in it is not worth it. IF they truly want primary care to survive then we need crown indemnity. Simple. just do it.

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