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Over one third of GPs 'may retire' within five years, warns BMA

The largest-ever GP survey has revealed stark figures threatening retention within the profession, including over one third considering retiring altogether.

Releasing the second part to its survey of nearly 16,000 grassroots GPs, the BMA said 34% were thinking of retiring from the GP profession in the next five years.

Also concerning, over one quarter (28%) of respondents who currently worked full time said they were considering going down to part time.

This came as 16% of all survey respondents said that their stress levels were ‘significant and unmanageable’.

Conducted by ICM Unlimited for the BMA, the major survey also saw less than half of GPs (47%) would recommend general practice as a career, although at 53% Scottish GPs were slightly more likely to do so than in Wales (at 48%), England and Northern Ireland (both at 45%).

The results also delivered a warning on retention among the youngest GPs entering the profession, as one in five GP trainees said they are considering leaving the UK to work abroad over the next five-year period.

The GPC said that the ‘incredible pressures’ on GP services were to blame for this crisis of the workforce.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This poll lays bare the stark reality of the crisis facing the GP workforce. A third of GPs are considering leaving the health service in the next five years and a significant number are also thinking about reducing their working hours. It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity.

‘GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients, especially the increasing numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care.’

When asked what impacts most negatively on their commitment to the profession, 71% said excessive workload. The next most common answers concerned unresourced work being moved into general practice (54%) and not being able to spend enough time with patients (43%).

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘In this climate it is absurd that in the recent leaders’ debate, political parties were attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next Parliament. Since it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this time frame. It is deeply worrying that a fifth of GP trainees, the GPs of the future, are hoping to move abroad before 2020.

Last week, the first part to the BMA’s GP survey revealed that nine out of ten GPs think the ten-minute consultation standard is inadequate for patient care, with GPC calling on politicians to rethink party pledges focusing on the speediest access to appointments.


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  • Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Readers' comments (38)

  • I'm pretty sure that well over 1/3 of those working in CCG's with GPs playing at commissioning (and the dross of bullying managers - left when the capable ones jumped ship) would love to retire too, but most of those that were rich enough have already left with massive payouts!

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  • @Vinci Ho | GP Partner | 15 April 2015 8:07am
    in answer to your question "what have I done to deserve this" - you and GP representative organisations allowed your profession to be mugged into a position where it is carrying the can for a lack of funding on the back of a few thinking they would receive power and money from it. Sur[prise there isn't enough money in the system and you have willingly fell into picking up the work the government won't pay for anymore!

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  • I joined general practice 28 years ago in the days when taking on a partner obtained for the practice an extra allowance. This was good for the practice as there were more doctors to provide more time for patients. We provided all out of hours care and our patients hardly went to casualty. Now they are all going to casualty!! The government is striving to achieve this but it does need proper funding for practices!! The goods days for patients and doctors in general practice have gone. It is best for yound doctors to make a life for themselves elsewhere as it is at present not going to happen in english general practice. For myself I have been semi-retired for several years and my pension taken out. You have to make a life for yourself-nobody else will. I am sad how things have gone for a career at the beginning I really enjoyed and there was good patient experiences. All gone to pieces now.

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  • Strangely enough, there is enough money in the NHS pot. The Blair/Brown Government set up PFI initiatives, which "allowed" developers to build shiny new edifices for us all to work in. This was because the NHS couldn't afford the capital projects, because of land/build costs. How naive! We now pay approaching 20% ROI /annum to these thieves/fraudsters . That is guaranteed taxpayer money over 35 years or the expected life of the buildings. Many directors/CEO's of these companies are floating round Nassau harbour in their gin palaces now toasting the NHS. I'm out of here in 2 years, because the guilt trip I have been on over the past 28 years is over. It's taken a while, but I've now seen through how easily we have all been manipulated by politicians, media and managers. Now is THE time to grow a pair and vote with our feet!

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  • @ Una coales
    I am one of these young GPs looking to move to Alberta. I have seen your post about this Alberta offer. Just wondered if you would be able to forward some more details about the practice and contact detaills. Could you please email me to
    Many thanks

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    @12:33 pm, the GP vacancy in Alberta for $450k-$650k has been provisionally filled. It went incredibly fast! When NHS GP surgeries cannot fill a GP vacancy for over a year, it may have something to do with the pay being offered and NHS working conditions?

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  • 55 now and going soon

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  • "Anonymous | GP Partner | 16 April 2015 9:42am
    ....Besides,when the full time equivalent number of GPs have actually risen since 2013, shouting crisis is a bit like crying wolf.The powers to be don't believe it."
    It is meaningless to quote figures suggesting an increase in GP numbers without also quoting consultations per GP. This is going up work load increases. If you hadn't noticed the country's population has been growing, work is being shifted from hospital to the community, and people's expectations of what they should get from their Dr has been stoked up what if GP numbers have increased a bit?...the population, it's consultation rate and the amount of extra work we are asked to do has gone up much much faster. Nobody is crying you genuinely believe there is no problem??

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