Almost eight in 10 GPs are ‘more likely’ to leave the NHS over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The majority of GPs told the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) that continuing pay erosion and a lack of PPE ‘putting their lives at risk’ were key factors in their decision.
In a survey of 474 UK GPs conducted by the DAUK, 78% said they are ‘more likely to leave’ the NHS due to ‘the pandemic and the Government’s treatment of frontline doctors during the pandemic’.
When asked about their reasons for wanting to leave the NHS, 77% of GPs referenced the lack of real-terms pay rise for doctors – including the exclusion of partners from the latest pay deal – and over a decade of ‘pay erosion’.
Over seven in 10 (71%) also said that a ‘lack of PPE putting their lives at risk’ was a factor.
Others factors for GPs included:
- Doctors being ‘prevented from speaking up publicly’ (44%)
- The pandemic’s impact on personal mental health (42%)
- Its impact on family and/or childcare issues (38%)
- ‘Visa issues’ or lack of indefinite leave to remain (31%)
- Ongoing long-term health issues from Covid infection (5%)
The DAUK also polled GPs on where they see themselves working in the next one to three years, finding that only a quarter (26%) expect to remain in their NHS post.
However, only 9% said they would be retiring in the next three years.
Over two in 10 (21%) said they expect to leave the NHS to pursue medicine abroad, while 8% said they would leave their post to continue medicine outside the NHS but in the UK.
A further 9% said they would leave their current post to locum and 17% said they planned to leave clinical medicine altogether.
DAUK GP advisory board member Dr Sophie Rowlands told Pulse that GPs have been left feeling ‘undervalued and unprotected’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: ‘The ongoing real-terms pay erosion along with issues obtaining PPE has severely dented morale. Mixed messaging from the Government and constantly changing advice has not helped.’
Dr Rowlands added: ‘Moving forward into what is likely to be a tough winter, it is vitally important that GPs have the support needed to continue providing excellent care for patients, as well as having safeguards in place for their own physical and mental wellbeing.
‘Without recognition and support, we are likely to face a mass exodus of GPs post-pandemic, with many already looking to leave clinical medicine or move overseas in the next three years.’