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GP job satisfaction plummets as stress is at worst levels ever recorded

GP job satisfaction has plummeted as work stress levels are at their worst ever levels, a Department of Health-commissioned study has shown.

The 2015 National GP Worklife Survey, undertaken by the University of Manchester, has showed GP job satisfaction is at its lowest level since 2001, with working hours and remuneration seeing the largest decreases in satisfaction since GPs were last surveyed in 2012.

The survey in 2012 found that GP stress was at its worst for 15 years, but this year’s survey found that the situation had got even worse.

It revealed that reported levels of stress ’increased between 2012 and 2015 on all 14 stressors, with the ’levels of stress… now at their highest since the beginning of the National GP Worklife Survey series in 1998’.

The survey of around 3,500 GPs added that the ’level of overall job satisfaction reported by GPs in 2015 was lower than in all surveys undertaken since 2001’.

‘On a seven-point scale (‘extremely dissatisfied’ (=1) to ‘extremely satisfied’ (=7)), average satisfaction had declined from 4.5 points in 2012 to 4.1 points in 2015,’ it said.

Meanwhile the proportion of GPs expecting to quit direct patient care in the next five years had increased for GPs both under and over 50 years-old.

The survey further showed that despite the Government’s pledge to increase access to GP appointments, ’fewer GPs reported that their practice offered extended hours access at the weekend (31% versus 32%) and on weekdays (72% versus 76%) than in 2012’.

Researchers said the 2015 results ‘continue the trends observed in recent waves of the National GP Worklife Survey’.

They concluded: ’The 2015 respondents reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction amongst GPs since before the introduction of their new contract in 2004, the highest levels of stress since the start of the survey series, and an increase since three years ago in the proportion of GPs intending to quit direct patient care within the next five years.’

Commenting on the findings, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’This important survey provides yet more evidence to back up the BMAs repeated warnings that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country. It is no surprise that stress levels have reached their highest level for almost 20 years, as GP services are under unprecedented workload pressure against a background of mounting bureaucracy and falling resources.

’We need the Government to accept the severity of this problem and address the huge pressures facing GP practices, guarantee that GPs are given the resources to be able to deliver the services that patients deserve and need, and work to ensure that general practice once again becomes an attractive career choice for the next generation of doctors.’

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