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GPs go forth

GP trainees put off career by negative messages from media and politicians

More than half of GP trainees say they are being put of their chosen career due to ‘soul-destroying media coverage’ and ‘GP bashing’ in the press and by politicians. 

Around 56% of the 178 trainees quizzed by researchers from Warwick Medical School said that the ‘current political and media comments about general practice have influenced my future career intentions…in a negative way’.

The same survey revealed that one-third of GP trainees said they were going to work in the NHS after training, echoing a Pulse survey earlier this month.

The researchers, who surveyed trainees nearing the end of training in the West Midlands, concluded: ‘The negative portrayal of general practice by politicians and the media was experienced as having had a detrimental effect on personal career intentions.’

Quotes from a number of GP trainees referred to GP bashing in the media.

What GPs trainees are saying

  • ‘Constant GP bashing in media is demoralising, quite rare to hear stories about hard work and positive outcomes from primary care.’
  • ‘There seems to be bad publicity about general practice from every angle. If you look in a newspaper you are told about ”bungling GPs”. The Government seems to think that we are not working at all and all crisis in hospital is due to our lack of work.
  • ‘It all has led to a very negative atmosphere and makes me reluctant to go to work in the morning because I wonder what battle I am going to have to face that day.’
  • ‘Media bashing of GP’s has affected morale combined with poor training on how to actually run a practice this has led to fear of applying for partnerships. Salaried doctors are used and abused by practices with no personal autonomy. Locum is the other option or emigrate. The tiered status within the profession needs to end.’

As Pulse reported earlier this month, many trainees said they wanted a portfolio career, combining the flexibility of locum or salaried positions, part-time work and other jobs such as CCG work and out-of-hours services.

Lead author Professor Jeremy Dale said: ‘General practice is experiencing a growing crisis, with the numbers of doctors who are training and then entering the profession in the UK failing to keep pace with workforce needs. With ever-increasing workload in general practice, there is an urgent need to understand and where possible address these issues at national and local level.’

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the findings were ‘incredibly concerning – for the future of general practice, the wider NHS, and the care we’re able to deliver to our patients’.

She said that trainees were witnessing ‘the intense resource and workload pressures GPs and our teams are facing across the country’.

‘We really do need all the family doctors we can get – thousands more than we currently have, and of all types, be they partners, salaried or locum GPs – so the prospect of losing new GPs so early in their careers could be disastrous for the NHS.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • Shhh. Don't tell the kids.
    Oops Helen- looks like they can read for themselves.
    Colouring books all round.

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) I can accept the politically correct statement that everybody from these different angles should be responsible.
    (2) Then who and what are actually reporting the ,at least , near to the truth and based on these objective 'facts' , making the subjective opinions?
    (3) The remarks made by those with most political and media power are the most influential as far as the public is concerned.Hence , these people have more social responsibilities and should be careful in giving the opinions . Donald Trump is a very good educational material to demonstrate this argument. Daily Mail and its collaterals are supposed to be one of those 'most popular' media .

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  • HSL,better have a word with the DoH and the daily mail about the negativity towards GP land.Oh I forgot as one of the establishment your self it's only the minion and frontline troops who are to blame for the negativity.It is painful getting stabbed in the back with many knives from people who should know better.The establishment has blood on its hands.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Furthermore , the relationship between the media and the government should be about 'checks and balances' , not
    propagating its political agendas.
    Those who studied journalism and took that as a career should know about this code and conduct very well .

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  • Vinci Ho

    Another good teaching material is about the Labour MP
    wrote her comments in a right wing 'popular' media and ended up resigning her position in the shadow cabinet.

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  • The problem is, nobody in NHSE or the DOH really cares that general practice is collapsing. They have rather accepted it, there really isn't any will to support it,
    They are busy trying to design a system that will replace medical care delivered by GPs with medical care delivered by minimally trained people using algorithms in the hope it will be much less expensive (it won't be), just as safe (it won't be), and just as satisfactory to the public (it won't be).
    We either need to decide to give in and watch the profession and the service collapse, fight this loudly and publicly, or accept it and redesign the service to exist outside of the NHS. If we do the latter I suspect they will come running back to us in 18 months having realised what a terrible mistake they have made.

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    Start by stopping this culture of encouraging complaining patients to waste prescious time and resources, answering menial complaints about service provision issues outside the control of practices.

    Only genuine complaints of harm should be left which warrant investigation and learning.

    Stop the pushing of expectations and patient demand, and pushing unfunded services from hospitals (and even funded ones as there is no spare capacity),and then the services won't be under such strain that both doctors and patients struggle.

    Just a simple fix and start to making things better, and its FREE!

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  • Our Cassandra wailing has done absolutely nothing but maybe these young doctors behaving entirely predictably and rationally and voting with their feet will finally din some sense of urgency into a few heads.

    I guess warning that something is going to disappear is a different state from the position when it has actually disappeared. It is odd that the easy wins to solve some of this like defenestrating the entire CQC, sorting out the law around indemnity, being transparent about rationing and generally giving us back our autonomy and leaving us alone are very deliberately being ignored.

    Vis a vis the criminal prosecution obsessed CQC - if the GMC can be made to behave then so can they.


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  • It is not only trainees that are put off. Retirement or change career are far better options.

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