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A faulty production line

Only one in 20 GP trainees will work full-time in general practice in ten years

Only one in 20 GP trainees see themselves working full time in general practice in ten years' time - half the percentage of the 2016 cohort - according to a new study by the King's Fund.

The survey of 840 GP trainees also found that only a quarter (27%) saw themselves working full time in general practice after a year, compared with 31% in 2016.

Fewer GP trainees in England are considering GP partnerships because of financial implications and a lack of business training, with over one in four trainees (41%) considering becoming a GP partner in 10 years’ time, which is a decrease from the 45% in the 2016 survey.

The authors said that unless the next Government can fix the problem of unsustainable workloads, the 'political arms race' of increasing GP numbers will 'fast become broken promises'. 

It comes as NHS Digital data reported the number of fully qualified full-time equivalent GPs in England has dropped by 339 in the past year.

Results also show over half of trainees (51%) said they would consider portfolio working later in their career – around five years after qualifying - an increase from the 2016 survey in which 44% said they would consider working flexibly.

The main reasons for choosing part-time or portfolio work is due to the intensity of the working day, according to respondents.

One respondent said: ‘The days are too long to even exercise – there’s no "balance" or promoting health when you can’t even achieve health yourself.’

Almost one-quarter of trainees (24%) said that the intensity was driven by a lack of staff, but some also said that increasing patient complexity and expectations from the public were factors in believing future workload would become unmanageable.

Senior fellow at The King’s Fund, Beccy Baird said: ‘Given it is likely that many new GPs will spend only part of their working week in general practice, promises of 5,000 or 6,000 more full-time equivalent GPs will mean finding many more individual GPs, potentially as much as half as many again.

‘There appears to be a political arms race for who can set the highest target for recruiting new GPs, but unless the next government addresses the unsustainable workloads that cause GPs to leave or reduce their hours, those aims may fast become broken promises.’

Recent UCAS figures have reported a record number of students applying for medicine courses at university.

Meanwhile, Health Education England revealed last month that it has surpassed its target of GP training places, which over 3,500 GP trainees being accepted in the past year.

Readers' comments (13)

  • How have we and our leaders allowed the job to deteriorate that this is the result
    All my friends outside of medicine work Monday to Friday with no days off unless they choose to work part time
    We are admitting it is impossible to have a career in full time GP land
    We have to have a new meaningful contract in April that delivers a workload reduction on the day it is implemented not sometime in the future

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  • Dont blame them,the job full time is shite.

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  • The problem i simple. To earn the same income as a GP did in the 80s AND 90s she/he needs to have exactly the same list size per FTE as then- circa 2000. However in the intervening years life expectancy, patient expectancy, multiple morbidity and polypharmacy have mushroomed.That is why we are all working so much harder. For a reasonable income say 100k for ft WORK list size needs to be about 1300 to regain sanity and to enable f/t working to return.

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  • Is this a surprise to politicians?
    You reap what you sow

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  • We need to stop defining FT / PT by session count.

    Many many "PT" GPs work more than 37.5 hours.

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  • The more you do, the less you earn per hour. If one is not careful, it ends up negative. Not worth it and people are aware. Those that want to do well emigrate.

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  • What the hell is full-time?

    37.5 hours?
    6 sessions?
    7 sessions?
    8 sessions?
    9 sessions?

    Difficult to interpret this report when there is no definition of full-time.

    We all know that working more than 6 sessions in practice is more than full time

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  • The only surprise her is that it might take that long to get to this level of FT GPs!

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  • NHSE call full time 37.5 hrs, bunch of numptie that they are.About 3 days on the front line.Out of touch methinks.

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  • In other professions the more responsibility one has, the more one gets paid. If the partnership model is to be sustainable and the work load is not going to be reduced, then the only credible way to ensure GPs will want to carry on taking responsibility is to pay them equivalent to peers in other fields. Have a hierarchy. If doctors choose to be locums/salaried doctors, pay them at a lower rate. If you choose to be a partner - you get paid £250000 per annum. If you incentivise it will at least give something for people to work towards. At this rate partnership will quickly fall apart - as we don't get paid enough to work these hours under this type of pressure long term.

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