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GP brain drain is a ‘significant danger’, says BMA

The rise in GPs considering working abroad is a ‘significant danger’ to the profession, says the BMA after Pulse figures showed a 40% increase in interest recorded by the GMC.

Figures obtained by Pulse show a 39% rise in the number of GPs requesting Certificates of Good Standing from the GMC – needed for registration with an overseas regulator – since 2008.

Pulse recently published figures for CGS requests for all doctors,showing a 12% increase since 2008, but a breakdown of those figures from the GMC shows a much larger rise in those who are GPs.

CGS requests from GPs have jumped from 722 requesting a certificate this year, compared with 521 in 2008.

Between 2011 and 2012, 13% more GPs requested a certificate from the GMC, a jump from 639 GPs in 2011 to 722 in 2012.

Official figures for the number of doctors moving overseas are not kept, so one of the closest indicators is to look at how many CGSs the GMC has issued.

Dr Mary McCarthy, the GPC’s representative on the BMA’s International Committee said the increase in GPs considering emigrating abroad, coupled with a rise in GP partners  deciding to become locums was a ‘significant danger’.

She said: ‘The impact on the workforce is dreadful. We don’t have enough trainees. We probably need 50% more GPs and at the moment we have more like 30 to 40%. If those trainees are going abroad then the staff left behind will face pressure to do more work and hit more targets.’

She added that it would impact on patients: ‘GPs are already cutting back on what they can offer. I’m not sure the impact of this is being recognised. This is a significant danger.’

Dr Tony Grewal, medical secretary at Londonwide LMCs, said more GPs are leaving because of the increasingly tough demands of NHS work.

He said: ‘Doctors are fleeing the sinking ship. Workload, income and respect are all moving in the wrong direction, and GPs are moving in the direction of their choice; the Antipodes. I’ve spent 30 years in the UK, if I was emerging from my training now as a young man, working in Australia, Canada, new Zealand would be very tempting.’

Dr Otto Olivier, a salaried GP who formerly worked in Wormslow in south Manchester is one such GP. He moved to work in Perth, western Australia just over three months ago and says his quality of life has ‘tripled’ since leaving the UK.

‘It’s so much easier working as a GP here than in the UK. There’s no home visits, no scripts to be signed. All your referrals you do in the consultation with your patients’ he said.

He added: ‘I work five days a week. The surgery is open at 8 closes at 6. There’s no on call at night and the consultation time is 15 minutes. It’s just brilliant. When you go home, that’s it, you don’t have to worry about anything, you can spend time with the family.’