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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Two out of five GPs now retire before 60, analysis suggests

The proportion of GPs who retire before the age of 60 has increased from one in five (21%) to two in five (39%) since 2011, the Medical Defence Union has said.

The MDU, which is the largest provider of GP medical indemnity in the UK, linked this to rising costs of clinical negligence cover.

The analysis further revealed that the average age at which GP members of the MDU retired in 2017 was 62 compared with 65 in 2011.

The MDU also surveyed 900 non-retired GP members to find that a third were considering leaving the profession due to the rising costs of indemnity.

MDU professional services director Dr Matthew Lee said: 'These figures are really worrying. At a time when NHS general practice is under unprecedented pressure, to see GPs retiring early or considering leaving general practice altogether can only make the problem worse.'

Dr Lee said that the cost of indemnity, which GPs have to bear themselves unlike their hospital colleagues, is 'hurting them and making it harder to provide services to patients'.

The data come as the Government has announced that it will develop a state-backed scheme to help with GP indemnity costs, however with no detail worked out it is unclear what impact it will have on costs.

Dr Lee said: 'Crucially as well as paying for future claims, the state-backed scheme must pick up historic liabilities, as happened when NHS indemnity was introduced for hospital doctors in 1990. This will ensure a smooth transition.

'GPs should not be left paying for the current indemnity crisis which is not of their making.'

The state-backed scheme was announced after Pulse handed health secretary Jeremy Hunt a letter demanding a solution to the GP indemnity crisis, signed by 300 GPs, this autumn.

It prompted the MDU to change its indemity product and slash the price in half, however the DH warned taking out the product could leave GPs liable claims its scheme may not cover.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Life is hard,then you're dead;
    We pay a third of our income into our pension,a substantial contribution,the pension is good though of course not in the same league as a politicians
    on average we die at 79,clearly far better than the anaesthetists.
    Whenever you die,you have to live for 20 years to break even on your pension contributions,59 therefore seems a logical place to start.
    At 62 you are essentially giving back a proportion of your pension to the government voluntarily.
    Add to this the extra you might earn from any investment of the lump sum for an extra 3 years
    If you plan to read books and knit,working on is a consideration
    However if the plan is for any form of activity e.g. golf, cycling, etc, then the extra years constitute a significant proportion of your remaining active life.
    Having taken the pension everything you earn is effectively taxed at 40%
    It is more economic to paint your own housetrain work pay 40% and pay someone else to do it with what's left.
    Painting a wall is considerably less stressful than seeing patients.

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  • Cobblers

    Not news.

    Sh!t job, Pension LTA at 1 million. Why not get out of Dodge?

    COI got pension at 57yrs.

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  • HUNT DOES NOT WANT TO SOLVE THIS CRISIS.

    ONLY THE PUBLIC CAN SOLVE THIS PROBLEM BY DEMANDING CHANGE AND USING THEIR POWER TO FORCE CHANGE

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  • Caught between the increasingly impossible demands of the NHS and the malignity of the GMC, any surprise GPs are taking early retirement?

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  • And look out for April 2020 when the rump of Seniority finally evaporates. A whole load will go then now certain that the government has no regard for wisdom, experience and institutional memory.

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  • Healthy Cynic

    Lifetime allowance and annual allowance on pensions is largely responsible for this trend.

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  • Like others here, I am not sure why this is newsworthy but more a depiction of reality. I retired at 55 but there was a part of me that would have carried on in a different role if it wasn't for indemnity, the insult of appraisal and the financial factors mentioned above.
    There is also something to be said about the fact we are of the generation that is slowly coming to terms with the fact that this is a job, not a vocation, a service or anything else and I am convinced no other job would be discussing retirement in such a way. We did our job. Now get out and live.

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  • Why would anyone now pick any form of Doctoring as a job, let alone General Practice. Far better as an investment banker or trader, Solicitor in a central London Inns of Court law firm, or at board level in a multinational PLC. Perhaps even better as a successful company owner. One still has to work hard to get there, but just look at the huge financial rewards. It is not only money. Being a Doctor used to command respect. The job was enjoyable. Nowadays a Doctor is a disposable pawn, a simple ‘worker’ at the coal face.

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  • Dear Ms Lind, this solitary statistic is eye catching, but quite possibly misleading; please could you exert a bit of journalistic curiosity and get a bit more data? Age and gender distribution would be helpful, as would some information about changes in the number of sessions worked. Thanks.

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  • 15k a year to be able to work?- would a GP really want to continue to feed parasitic organisations which tell you that it is your fault if your patient is not taking his medication? The system is bonkers and indemnity mafia is untouchable. State indemnity is not happening for GPs at the level of cover provided to hospital staff- Hunt is again spinning porkies:)

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