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More than two thirds of GPs work less than full time, says official data

Nearly seven in ten GPs are working less than full time, according to official workforce data.

The NHS Digital data revealed an increasing proportion of GPs working less than 37.5 hours per week over the past five years.

GP leaders said the figures were ‘unsurprising’ considering ‘the current pressure on general practice and the subsequent stress of a working GP’.

However, this comes after the National GP Worklife Survey found that 20% of GPs questioned said they work more than 60 hours each week.

According to the latest figures, 69% of GPs – excluding registrars, retainers and locums – were working less than 37.5 hours per week as of March 2018, with 31% working 37.5 hours or more each week. This is compared with 65% of GPs working part-time in September 2015.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the latest figures are ‘just one part of a wider recruitment and retention issue in general practice which has been largely underpinned by years of under investment’.

He said: ‘Given the current pressure on general practice and the subsequent stress of working as a GP, it is unsurprising that many are choosing to adopt a more flexible approach to working where they can have a more reasonable work/life balance.

‘Indeed, in many cases, those scheduled on part-time hours are still doing a full week’s work.’

The data further revealed that the number of GP partners working part-time has also steadily increased over the last five years from 58% in September 2015 to 60% in March 2018.

A Pulse survey last year revealed that of 1,200 UK GPs, 27% were working more than 50 hours a week, with a further 13% working 45-50 hours.

The RCGP launched a campaign last year to combat GP fatigue by encouraging GPs to take breaks, titled ‘A rested GP is a safer GP’.

The news comes as the GP workforce continues to suffer with 523 full-time equivalent GPs leaving the profession between March and June this year, with 5,000 GPs leaving the partnership model over the last decade.

In Nottinghamshire LMC, GPs have been encouraged to take on portfolio careers over leaving the profession in an effort to retain its workforce

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: 'GPs are a vital part of the NHS and it’s important to recognise the need for flexible working options so we can better retain GPs with patients benefiting from their wealth of knowledge and expertise.'

Readers' comments (22)

  • Doesn't add up does it? Work force survey says 40% work more than 45 hours a week. NHS data says only 31% work more than 37.5 hours a week. Interestingly the MORI poll definition of full time is more than 27 hours. Hmmm I should be inteested to know hiw many would be part time in the work force survey by that definition!

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  • I also question the calculating of hours.
    In my practice the most 'part time' doctor works 5 sessions, but I think they work 32 hours/ week.
    The 6 session doctors work above the 37 hour threshold - but suspect they are recorded in the survey as part time.

    And people who work 2 days in a GP surgery, 1 day for a university and 1 day for the CCG are probably marked as working part time based on their GP surgery time only.

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    The lucky few
    would rather just supervise the salaried slaves

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  • doctordog.

    Increase the lifetime pension allowance and have a sliding scale tax liability and I would gladly work more sessions.
    But I am not working for £11 per day after tax.

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  • That’s because- My one 1:2 day is actually
    7am-5 pm solid- not even time for a wee?!
    Hence most of my colleagues are “ part time” ( misnomer)- as full time is minimal 14 hour+ days and not sustainable these days! We’d crack up!!!!

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  • When will the Government work out that the system is broken!
    I wait 5 weeks for a routine appointment and this is in Salibury.

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  • I think everyone in Salisbury is seeing their GP about neck pain from looking up at that 123 metres of magnificent spire.

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  • I believe that NHS Digital consider full-time as 9 sessions with each session being 4hr10mins - hence full-time = 9 x 4hr 10 which =37.5hrs. That's the logic but clearly not the reality.

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  • 'Full-Time' for a GP is officially described as 26 hours per week, and 3/4 is 19 hours.
    A GP doing 5 shifts a week from 07:30 to 20:00 is still only 'part-time', because 1 afternoon a week is hospital ward cover, and 1 'session' is MIU cover, so they are, by subtraction,only doing 8 sessions of GP in that week, even though they may take the admin home with them, and work Sundays at Church!
    All the comparisons are meaningless as they are not alike!

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  • |Doctor John Islip | GP|20 Sep 2018 6:06pm

    The government can't fix anything when its not what the public wants (MORE socialism). Its the public that has to change in its perception of the NHS for the government to then do anything about it.

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