Nearly seven in ten GPs are working less than full time, according to official workforce data.
The NHS Digital data revealed an increasing proportion of GPs working less than 37.5 hours per week over the past five years.
GP leaders said the figures were ‘unsurprising’ considering ‘the current pressure on general practice and the subsequent stress of a working GP’.
However, this comes after the National GP Worklife Survey found that 20% of GPs questioned said they work more than 60 hours each week.
According to the latest figures, 69% of GPs – excluding registrars, retainers and locums – were working less than 37.5 hours per week as of March 2018, with 31% working 37.5 hours or more each week. This is compared with 65% of GPs working part-time in September 2015.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the latest figures are ‘just one part of a wider recruitment and retention issue in general practice which has been largely underpinned by years of under investment’.
He said: ‘Given the current pressure on general practice and the subsequent stress of working as a GP, it is unsurprising that many are choosing to adopt a more flexible approach to working where they can have a more reasonable work/life balance.
‘Indeed, in many cases, those scheduled on part-time hours are still doing a full week’s work.’
The data further revealed that the number of GP partners working part-time has also steadily increased over the last five years from 58% in September 2015 to 60% in March 2018.
A Pulse survey last year revealed that of 1,200 UK GPs, 27% were working more than 50 hours a week, with a further 13% working 45-50 hours.
The RCGP launched a campaign last year to combat GP fatigue by encouraging GPs to take breaks, titled ‘A rested GP is a safer GP’.
The news comes as the GP workforce continues to suffer with 523 full-time equivalent GPs leaving the profession between March and June this year, with 5,000 GPs leaving the partnership model over the last decade.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘GPs are a vital part of the NHS and it’s important to recognise the need for flexible working options so we can better retain GPs with patients benefiting from their wealth of knowledge and expertise.’