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Over one third of GPs ‘may retire’ within five years, warns BMA



The largest-ever GP survey has revealed stark figures threatening retention within the profession, including over one third considering retiring altogether.

Releasing the second part to its survey of nearly 16,000 grassroots GPs, the BMA said 34% were thinking of retiring from the GP profession in the next five years.

Also concerning, over one quarter (28%) of respondents who currently worked full time said they were considering going down to part time.

This came as 16% of all survey respondents said that their stress levels were ‘significant and unmanageable’.

Conducted by ICM Unlimited for the BMA, the major survey also saw less than half of GPs (47%) would recommend general practice as a career, although at 53% Scottish GPs were slightly more likely to do so than in Wales (at 48%), England and Northern Ireland (both at 45%).

The results also delivered a warning on retention among the youngest GPs entering the profession, as one in five GP trainees said they are considering leaving the UK to work abroad over the next five-year period.

The GPC said that the ‘incredible pressures’ on GP services were to blame for this crisis of the workforce.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This poll lays bare the stark reality of the crisis facing the GP workforce. A third of GPs are considering leaving the health service in the next five years and a significant number are also thinking about reducing their working hours. It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity.

‘GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients, especially the increasing numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care.’

When asked what impacts most negatively on their commitment to the profession, 71% said excessive workload. The next most common answers concerned unresourced work being moved into general practice (54%) and not being able to spend enough time with patients (43%).

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘In this climate it is absurd that in the recent leaders’ debate, political parties were attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next Parliament. Since it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this time frame. It is deeply worrying that a fifth of GP trainees, the GPs of the future, are hoping to move abroad before 2020.

Last week, the first part to the BMA’s GP survey revealed that nine out of ten GPs think the ten-minute consultation standard is inadequate for patient care, with GPC calling on politicians to rethink party pledges focusing on the speediest access to appointments.

 

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