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Work/life balance warning over GP commissioning

Any changes to GPs' working lives which make them less compatible with having a family will be a major blow to GP recruitment, researchers have warned, after a study found family compatibility was the number one reason trainees choose general practice.

A survey of more than 2,000 trainee GPs and GPs who qualified within the past five years saw 77% of women and 66% of men cite compatibility with family life as a reason for choosing general practice as a specialty – the most popular reason given.

Other common reasons for choosing general practice included it being a ‘challenging and medically diverse discipline', being able to offer one to one care and the holistic approach to patients. Just 8% of women and 10% of men gave salary as a motivating factor.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concluded: ‘The most important reason for both women and men choosing general practice as a career in the UK is its compatibility with family life.'

‘As such, changes to UK primary care that decrease family compatibility could negatively impact on recruitment.'

The Medical Women's Federation is currently surveying GPs on changes to family friendly working practices, and its president Dr Clarissa Fabre, a GP in Uckfield, Sussex, warned that GPs' terms and conditions were being squeezed in the transition to GP commissioning.

‘I am worried that with the new consortia maternity locum payments could be under threat,' she said.