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Eight in 10 GPs ‘more likely’ to leave NHS over handling of pandemic

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.

It comes as the BMA’s annual representative meeting voted to demand a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic this week.

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.’ 

A recent study found that an increase in wages can influence job satisfaction but is not enough to retain GPs unless other measures are taken such as a reduction in bureaucracy. 


Anonymous 18 September, 2020 12:20 pm

These polls don’t reflect what will happen. They need jobs to pay for family, mortgage etc and no one would leave it because of handling of coronavirus by government

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 12:37 pm

having just worked for 3 days solid for 10 hours each day and no breaks, can’t wait to leave. many of my colleagues are just waiting till they can find alternate work or leave, this has been restricted by covid but once it all settles, which it will in a year or too, there is no incentive to stay in the UK as a GP or continue to employed as one except as a locum. Covid has shown how little we actually matter in the big scheme of things to both our employers on high and patients – as a partner, salaried or as a locum. NHSE have clearly shown how out of touch, insensitive and incompetent they are and how much they despise grass root GPs. the whole department needs replacing.

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 12:48 pm

True- most have stress of mortgage school fees, etc so not walking out-
but as per above poster: non stop 14 hour days with no break unsustainable
and as a full time doc I’m cutting down to 1/2 time ASAP and working in the private sector the rest of the time with a view to full transition ASAP. And looking at working abroad.
Despite working hard patients expectations are unreal and complaints are flying in – not about clinical issues but administrative “ why wasn’t I called back by the same doctor. With my abnormal results “ “ why didn’t I see the same doctor ….. just unrealistic during unprecedented demand but vocal complaints so have to take more time to respond??? Ridiculous-they gave no idea what we’re dealing with – had enough!