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Nearly a third of GPs say they will quit within five years

Nearly a third (31%) of GPs say they are 'unlikely' to still be working in general practice in five years' time, with stress cited as the main reason, the RCGP has found.

The college surveyed 1,094 GPs in England, also finding that swathes of practices are set to close, amid vast issues with recruitment.

The survey found that:

  • 5% of GPs report that their practice is likely to close in the next year (not practices that are merging with others);
  • 37% of GPs report that in the practice where they work, there are GP vacancies that have been open for more than three months. 

The college has also analysed workforce data to see which areas are facing the largest rises and decreases in GP numbers.

It found that the areas with the biggest increases in GP numbers between September 2015 and Sept 2018 were:

  • NHS Liverpool CCG (87)
  • NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG (67)
  • NHS Kernow CCG (54)
  • NHS Lambeth CCG (45)
  • NHS Gloucestershire CCG (41)

While the areas with the biggest decreases in GP numbers in the same time period were:

  • NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG (-52)
  • NHS Walsall CCG (-33)
  • NHS Portsmouth CCG (-29)
  • NHS Hull CCG (-22)
  • NHS Thanet CCG (-19)

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'This is gravely concerning. We are talking about highly-trained, highly-skilled doctors, that the NHS is at risk of losing - some will retire, which is to be expected, but many are planning to leave earlier than they otherwise would have done.

'All GPs are overworked, many are stressed, and some are making themselves seriously ill working hours that are simply unsafe, for both themselves and their patients - it is making them want to leave the profession.'

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'These findings are alarming and will cause a great deal of worry for patients who would be forced to find a new practice.

'While GPs strive to provide high quality care to all of their patients, statistics such as this speak volumes to the huge amount of pressure they are under; rising demand from a growing population with increasingly complex conditions means that workload is nearing insurmountable levels.

'Given the stress this causes and impact that it has on doctors’ wellbeing, it is unsurprising that many are questioning their own futures and the future of their practices.' 

Both the RCGP and BMA called for the forthcoming NHS long-term plan to address the problems.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Council of Despair

    saying and doing are two different things.

    I've lost count on how many 'red lines' have been crossed and how often people have stated 'this is the final nail in the coffin' but yet the same system carries on. The job now is just about survival - you hope you don't make a bad error and hope you can make it to retirement or a career change.

    There have been opportunities for change but at every turn, we back down or bottle it.

    The pattern has been the following for the last few years;

    1. people will moan
    2. the government will come up with a shiny superficial policy with no clinical merit
    3. the RCGP, BMA will back it once it says 'good for patients'
    4. demand will increase
    5. supply will decrease
    6. absolutely nothing changes
    7. back to 1

    I think the Lion King called it the circle of life

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  • true nut you forgot one thing.

    as the supply goes down the cost goes up.
    im glad im not a partner any more

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  • What Now?

    That's if there is a general practice
    left in 2 years...
    2020 .. nice round number to end on ??
    Qualified in 2000

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  • It never fails to amaze me that despite the scarcity of GPs meaning we have more negotiating power, our representatives continue with a completely open-ended GP contract regarding hours of work and tasks delegated from others as well as being first point of contact for all (un)reasonable patient demand. We must design a service doctors enjoy working in as well as clinically satisfying rather than the macho do-it-all misery that so many new and not so new GPs are rejecting in terms of partnership. Scotland's SGPC fluffed its chance recently, it's up to England now...

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  • Yep, I'm off in 2.5 years when 57.
    So you can add 1 to your survey.

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  • council of despair is spot on- The job now is just about survival - you hope you don't make a bad error and hope you can make it to retirement or a career change.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    ScottyDog - we only have collective bargaining power if the troops will down tools to fight the government's choices in resource allocation. We had our bluff called over pensions...

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  • will be gone within 5 years,thank heavens for the 1995 pension.late 40s.

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  • Just made the decision to emigrate. Out at 40, madness.

    This is a tragedy of misgovernance.

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  • Surveys are meaningless, the same result as five years ago. You need to know facts - numbers working, numbers in and numbers out.

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