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At the heart of general practice since 1960

More than half of GPs to take early retirement

The majority of GPs will take early retirement, with only 6% committing themselves to working until the age of 65, a new poll of 1,000 GPs has revealed.

An investigation by the BBC also found that one in five GPs believed that medical students were shunning general practice because of its standing within the profession, while a quarter believed it was due to the volume of consultations.

It comes as the deputy chair of the GPC told delegates at the Welsh LMCs conference in Cardiff that students are being told ‘50% of you are going to have to be GPs, and if you don’t work hard enough that’s where you’ll end up’.

This follows revelations from Pulse that applications for general practice have hit their lowest number for six years, since figures have been recorded in this way.

The health secretary has said that hospital demand has been ‘taking money away from services like GPs, mental health and district nursing’ and that the Government is working to reverse this.

NHS England set out its 10-point strategy to boost GP numbers in January, offering incentives to retain older GPs, including reviewing current retainer schemes and investing in a new national scheme and how to incentivise experienced GPs to remain in practice, for examples via a funded mentorship scheme or offer portfolio careers.

The BBC poll - to be revealed tonight on its Inside Out programme - found that 25% of GPs said they will ‘definitely leave’ before the age of 65, while 30% said that will ‘probably leave’ before the retirement age.

A further 32% said they will ‘probably not leave’, while only 6% said they would ‘definitely not leave’ before the age of 65.

It also found that in Carlisle in Cumbria, where there is a particular recruitment crisis, one in three practices have vacancies

Pulse revealed last month that there had been a reduction of more than 6% in the number of applications for GP training.

The BBC poll asked GPs why medical students were rejecting general practice, and 27% - the largest amount - said it was because of the volume of consultations. One in five said it was because of general practice’s standing within the profession while the same amount said it was due to the working hours.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, GP and BMA education, training and workforce committee chair, who features in tomorrow’s Inside Out programme, said: ‘The BMA has been warning for some time that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country. GP services are under unprecedented workload pressure, with practices seeing record numbers of patients - 40 million more annually than in 2008 – against a background of mounting bureaucracy and falling resources.

‘This has led to a significant drop in GP morale, and, as the BBC’s survey shows, has led to a worrying number of senior GPs choosing to retire early or work abroad, at the same time that general practice faces a serious shortfall in the number of doctors choosing to train as GPs.

‘In my own practice, two established GPs and one newly qualified GP have moved to Canada and Australia since last summer due to the unsustainable daily pressure facing GPs.’ 

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC: ‘Hospitals have been struggling to meet increasing demand and that has taken money away from services like GPs, mental health and district nursing.

‘That was wrong and we’re moving to correct that. The centre of gravity in the NHS for 66 years has been big hospitals.

‘We need to change that and make the centre of gravity general practice and out-of-hospital care.’

Readers' comments (40)

  • Mid forties,full time male the way its going will not last another 10 years.I do not feel the powers that be are bothered so stuff them.

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  • Im shocked its only 50% , i honestly would have thought closer to 70% in personal experience.
    The Government / DOH have this as their plan anyway and know they can train up and replace with lots of salaried docs, who will do as they say with ZERO clinical autonomy.

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  • The government want us all to retire early so our pension payments will be lower. It's all part of the strategy. This is good news for them, don't expect any dismay.

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  • Bob Hodges

    The amateurs they'll have to draft in to replace us will cost A LOT more than our pensions starting in the short term.

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  • It is all part of the strategy- there needs to be a real 'crisis' for the Government to initiate the change it wants. So don't expect any quick solutions to this to be forthcoming from Hunt etc al. ChenMed, United etc all waiting in the wings- oh and the FT's
    I am mid 40's Partner, Trainer and leaving the NHS. General practice has become a risky mugs game.

    Out of 6 appraisals I have done so far this year - two going to Canada, one to Australia and one never intending to do anything other than locum.
    They need to worry about those further away from retirement as well- if they are really bothered.

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  • On may way out to Australia.
    Counting the days actually the minutes.
    Was GP partner / appraiser / trainer /OOH as well.

    Best of luck to those decided to carry on .

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  • Why is it all about England - look over the border to Wales - especially North Wales - that's where the disaster is going to hit next - big time !

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  • The pension travesty is a large part of this, IMHO. High stress, high risk professions should not mandate working until nearly 70. Move pension back to 60, and make it generous and reduce contributions and the people will then gravitate once again to general practice. Without 'perks', why bother? BMA do not care, so I left the BMA. Australia on my radar too...

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  • You can earn big money in the city, law, dentistry, property? most definitely not medicine and especially not GP- especially as it is deemed a taboo subject in the article above- so are the top 5% of university graduates really all that bright or ....

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  • I am in the 55 years + age group. The moanign gets none of us anywhere - we are going to have to find our own solutions to some of the Tsunami we feel ovehwelmed by - ie the bit we create ourselves. 10 minutes is coolege based idea that has had its time.
    I went to 15 min consultations over a year ago - best thing I ever did - surgeries are self balancing and now run on time and you have recovery/interruption time as well. Waiting times gone up but you cannot have everyhitng...

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