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Why are so many GPs under 50 leaving the profession?

Researchers find overwork and burnout are major factors in the departure of younger GPs, reports Sofia Lind

GPs under the age of 50 are abandoning UK general practice as they feel ‘unsupported and vulnerable to burnout’, a study commissioned by NHS England has concluded.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice last month, found changes to the profession played a bigger part in GPs’ decision to leave than personal circumstances.

The researchers from the University of Bath, University of Bristol and Staffordshire University surveyed and interviewed 143 GPs under 50 who had left the profession, concluding that ‘to improve retention of young GPs, the pace of administrative change needs to be minimised and the time spent by GPs on work that is not face-to-face patient care reduced’. 

It comes as Pulse’s long-running Battling Burnout campaign has highlighted soaring rates of burnout within the profession. The campaign contributed to NHS England’s decision last year to announce a new national support service for all hard-pressed GPs, which is expected to launch from April.

Dr Zoe Norris, media lead of pressure group GP Survival, said: ‘It is extremely useful to have confirmation in a peer-reviewed, well-recognised journal, of what grassroots GPs have been saying all along – that GPs want to get on with their jobs. We want to see patients.’

An NHS England spokesperson said it was ‘working hard across the health service to help GPs through the current pressures as well as investing £10 million in ways to further boost the workforce’. 

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Readers' comments (34)

  • "but what are our representatives GPC/BMA and RCGP doing about it?" Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP03 Feb 2016 5:08pm
    There is a short answer nut not for family viewing.
    The longer answer is that these gong-grabbers (including LMCs) have no incentive to fire up as they have a comfortable life sitting in their posh offices WE are paying for.

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  • I am in the LMC. I go to meetings in my own time for NO pay. we are genuinely trying to do something, but all we can ultimately do is ditch the Contract, because to me and many LMC members, it is just impossible.
    But what do we do with a Govt. hell bent on squeezing us to death?
    Other than resigning, and going the way of the dentists, there really are very few options.
    I agree with everyone = it should not be like this. Like 150 am, we are perhaps too close to the NHS.
    Perhaps it is time to walk away.
    I think market forces will decide. If GPs continue to leave, there will be no one left.

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  • Have a read of this

    And if you think its bad now, wait until we have Boris at the healm. As the financial crisis hits, expect us to lurch to the right, like the US currently is doing with Trump. Then the culmination of investors looking for a safe haven in healthcare, and the privatisation ideology will culminate with TTIP. And JH will look like a pussycat.

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  • I was a salaried GP, and was squeezed to death in my practice by the senior partners and the patients. Workload was very high and patients were rude and litiginous and my physical and mental health was suffering.

    Out of sheer frustration, took up locum jobs for 4 years and was extremely satisfied. I did not care a shit whether I was over referring or asking for too many investigations as I acted in the best interests of the patients. I had seen too many GPs fobbing their patients without doing appropriate investigations or appropriately referring to secondary care all in the name of saving money. Needless to say patients were quite happy with me and would regularly see me rather than their own GPS.

    I have now emigrated about a year back, and life is too good. I am a better doctor now.

    So, all young doctors and likewise old doctors out there, it is better to locum or emigrate if possible rather than being stuck as a salaried GP/Partner.

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