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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)

  • The question is, why should they stay?

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  • The answer is "because its shi@ and the UK is a cesspool"

    next question please

    Ditch the country comrades!

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  • I know that the state, media and public don't care (fair enough) but what are our representatives GPC/BMA and RCGP doing about it?

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  • Does anyone other than GP's even care right now? They will miss us when we are gone comrades.

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  • Vinci Ho

    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’.

    Seriously believing the Ministry of Plenty? Give us a break down of how you have spent the £10 million .....

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  • ... a turd on a silver platter garnished with all the trimmings is still a turd.

    Being a GP in the UK is an utterly miserable job and a very poor career choice. If you are under 50 and cannot emigrate it is fare better emotionally and financially to locum or explore private sector options. Funnily enough other professional sectors (including banking and finance) seem to rate a medical degree very highly. MB BS has a lot of professional capital for a medic wishing to switch to a new career.

    The private sector or occupational health are both rewarding options for NHS GPs wishing to switch. THe DoH may like to think that the over 35s and under 50s are stuck with NHS general practice but will probably find we have other options... shame but that's life.

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  • Not just the under 50s are going it's the just over 50s who are going. Had enough of this ridiciculous paperwork tick boxing chasing hospital stuff care plans that have limited value told not to refer told to refer more 2weekers etc etc
    51 next week and handed in my resignation and my work partner is doing the same. From 5 to 3 doctors.
    I do feel sorry for the remaining partners but my family tell me i haven't looked as happy as i do now. Time to be selfish for first time in my working career.

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  • Any young guns reading this just look at the above 2 posters.

    I left 3 years ago as well aged 31yrs. overworked underpaid and almost driven crazy.

    Emigration was the best decision I ever made. At last i enjoy my job again and have a life as well as a career.

    the people that run the NHS as well as those that purport to lead the profession dont care a damn about any of you. they dont care if you burn out, they dont care if youre overworked, they dont care if your health deteriorates......take it from me and the many before you this shite aint worth it, its time for you to make your exit plans and get out......

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  • Ex GP partner left 14/12 ago. My family had disappeared and and didn't even know until after I had left.
    What a waste of my life - just trying to get it back . 20 years of giving and who cares that I'm destroyed?
    The NHS is abusive to its staff and others in the system are co abusers.
    Get out now !

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  • All you students out there....7.22 is telling you straight! Listen and learn. It is a more important lesson than any you will learn at medical school.
    The powers that be just do not care one bit. They don't care about your life, your death, NOTHING!
    Leave now while you have the chance. Let them sort it out and you could always come back if things got better. But by that time you will probably be retired somewhere sunning yourself in Oz throwing prawns on the barbie!

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