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Half of GPs may quit profession over contract changes, LMCs warn



Half of GPs are considering quitting general practice and two-thirds say their practice will struggle to remain viable due to the Government’s planned contract changes, according to the largest survey of the profession to date.

The survey by six LMCs collated responses from 2,700 GPs in South West England and delivers a stark warning that practices are struggling with rising workload over the past few years, and that the changes due to be imposed on them from April will mark a watershed for the profession.

Some 84% of respondents said their current practice workload is not sustainable, and 48% said it was ‘dangerously unsustainable’.

The survey comes as the BMA conducts its own survey on the proposed contract changes, asking if it could make them leave the NHS, and after Pulse revealed that more than three quarters of GP partners expect to slash their drawings and nearly half expect to cut extra services offered to patients if the Government’s proposed contract changes come into force.

The survey found 67% of respondents said their practice would struggle to remain viable due to the contract changes and that 48% of GPs said they would be considering alternative options for earning a living or taking some form of retirement.

Over 90% of GPs reported that their working day had become longer in the last three years, 96% reported that the intensity of work had increased over the last 3 years and 94% reported their work had become more complex.

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Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wessex LMCs carried out the survey. Devon LMC chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said the survey showed that the workload on practices was becoming unsustainable.

He said: ‘The survey mirrors growing concerns among the professions leaders about the effects of workload on the safe delivery of a sustainable system of general practice in the south-west, especially in view of the forthcoming reduction in resources to practices. ‘

‘The NHS is going through a period of great change and the country faces significant financial challenges, but this survey shows the level of risk to the existence of general practice as we know it. The personal GP system which is valued by patients and has repeatedly been shown to offer excellent value for money is under serious threat from the Government’s plans for the future.’

The Government’s consultation on contract proposals closes next month, with an imposed contract expected to come into effect from 1 April.

 

Key findings
– 67% of respondents said their practice would struggle to remain viable
– 93% of GPs reported that their working day had become longer in the last three years and 45% said it was much longer
– 96% reported that the intensity of work had increased over the last 3 years with 50% saying it was much more intense
– 94% reported their work had become more complex
– 48% of GPs said they would be considering alternative options for earning a living or taking some form of retirement

– Changes from April led 84% of respondents to say that current workload is not sustainable, with 48% saying it is dangerously unsustainable

Source: Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wessex LMCs