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Half of new doctors looking to practise overseas

Large swathes of GPs are considering moving abroad 10 years after finishing medical school, a BMA study suggests.

A survey of 430 doctors who graduated in 2006, who would now be qualified GPs or doctors progressing through specialty training, showed almost half are looking at overseas practice because their experience of being a doctor is worse than they expected.

The BMA Cohort Doctor Report, which has been following the group since they graduated in 2006, found that the proportion planning to practise overseas was growing rapidly.

The most recent survey found that 42% of doctors plan to practise overseas (up from 37% last year and 30% in 2014) – with 10% having applied for a certificate of good standing with a view to working abroad.

The same propostions also said that their current experience as a doctor was worse than they expected when they graduated.

The survey also found worrying levels of stress and a decline in morale. It found:

  • The proportion of doctors stating that their current levels of morale are worse than each previous point in time (foundation training, speciality training, one year ago) is consistently greater than the proportion who state that it is now better;
  • The biggest causes of stress are work-life balance responsibilities, a shortage of doctors and high levels of paperwork;
  • The past four surveys have seen a deterioration in perceptions of working atmosphere, working conditions, pace and intensity of work and complexity of work.

The report aims to provide insights into career choice and working environments in terms of workplace morale, work-related stress and work-life balance.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Every doctor who leaves to work abroad is the loss of another much needed potential GP and with morale at such a low these survey findings come as no surprise. It’s now urgent for the government to take real steps to listen to and work with junior doctors in order to retain them in the UK and in the NHS.’

BMA’s junior doctors’ committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt, said: ‘We have been saying for some time that morale amongst doctors is at an all-time low and these figures show, once again, that doctors are on a knife edge. They are reaching their limit, and if stretched any further, they will walk.

‘Given the results of this study, it makes no sense for the Government to rush the implementation of the junior doctor contract, which will only make things worse.’

This BMA report is the tenth, and final one, of the series.