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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)

  • The block GMS contract, as a partner is very concerning. In many ways, becoming salaried in a super practice has its advantages. See your 15 patients, 1-2 home visits etc. Beyond that patients wanting to be seen - not my problem. If and when the partnership model dies, it is going to cost the government (if the NHS still exists). I think Matt Hancock hasn’t a clue how hard we work as partners.

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  • I repeat again lol This is what you get when you have comprehensive socialised state healthcare provision..... It's nothing surprising. For decades, economists globally have known this would be the end result because of some fundamental principles:
    1. The bigger a state bureaucracy, the smaller your economy/private sector/wealth generators.
    2. The state tends to do things badly or make things worse.
    3. It's always easier to be liberal with someone else's money, or flipping it, no one is more responsible than with their own money.
    4. Taking personal responsibility (inc financial) from individuals encourages less responsible behaviour.

    And for decades, I've seen no contrary evidence to the above, and have heard no rational counter-argument from the left. Anyone fancy a go?

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  • It took me a while, but eventually I accepted that there was only one thing I could change about my intolerable situation as a GP partner. Out this year in my early fifties, still well able to do a reasonable day's doctoring. For all their surveys and public sucking of their teeth, none of the local or national NHS bodies expressed the slightest interest in my reasons for leaving or in trying to find ways to keep me in the profession.

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  • Peter, not sure what you meant by our having had our bluff called over pensions...

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