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Not ‘rocket science’ why doctors are leaving the health service, says GMC chief

Not ‘rocket science’ why doctors are leaving the health service, says GMC chief

The trend of more doctors leaving the NHS is not ‘rocket science’ since they are working in ‘incredibly stressed environments’, according to the GMC chief executive.

Speaking at the NHS Confed Expo in Manchester today, Charlie Massey outlined the importance of doctors exhibiting compassionate leadership and helping improve NHS culture.

The session focussed on upcoming changes to the GMC’s Good Medical Practice (GMP), due this summer, which will include more explicit mentions of leadership.

Mr Massey said that every doctor has ‘a duty to lead and delivering on that duty is central to delivering first class care’, and will help boost retention and stop increasing numbers of doctors leaving.

He added: ‘Certainly we are worried that there are more doctors at all stages through their careers who are likely to leave.

‘It shouldn’t be rocket science – if people are working in incredibly stressed environments, they are more likely to be looking to work overseas or elsewhere.’

Delegates at the conference raised concerns about clinicians having sufficient time to work on improving leadership and culture, and Mr Massey acknowledged that GPs are one of the groups who are ‘the most burned out’ and ‘the most stressed’.

When one GP delegate cited particular difficulties in general practice, the GMC chief executive said the challenge is far more complicated than simply workforce pressures.

He said: ‘My own observation is the world we inhabit is one where we can quite often get locked in a narrative of heroes and villains around all of these things, which can lead people to almost bury our heads in the sand, put our hands over our ears and say “all we need are 10,000 more GPs, or whatever it may be, and that’s the only solution that’s going to work”.

‘I think sadly, the challenge we face is more complex than that. There is no cavalry of GPs or other doctors that’s going to come over the hill in the immediate term.’

In March, Mr Massey delivered the keynote speech at Pulse Live, saying regulatory hurdles must be lifted to admit a ‘sizeable’ pool of SAS doctors who are ‘itching’ to work in general practice and fully utilise their skills.

However, the BMA has raised concerns about this, including risks around NHS England pilots being an ‘abuse’ of the rules, and SAS doctors experiencing exploitation.

In November, the GMC chief warned that the UK must stop ‘haemorrhaging’ GPs, who are ‘voting with their feet’ to go work abroad.

NHS Digital data recently showed that more than one in five GPs aged under 30 quit the profession last year.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Graham Munro 14 June, 2023 6:58 pm

To think——I was once so proud to have got a place at medical school

SUBHASH BHATT 14 June, 2023 7:19 pm

We spend lot of public fund to train excellent doctors. They must sign to serve nhs for at least 5 years.

Anonymous 14 June, 2023 7:38 pm

Subhash, I cannot believe you really think so?

Training medicine in the UK, although somewhat subsidised, still leaves UK graduates will substantial debt. Perhaps excluding Scotland.

You have left India four years after graduation, was this your personal experience that you were subdued to serve Indian healthcare for set number of years? Is this why you have such views?

Government should do better to retain staff, but this cannot be done by asking anyone to serve nobody.

We are past the colonialism era and times of servilism.

David Church 14 June, 2023 8:12 pm

Dear Anonymous,
No, I would be quite happy to sign up to a binding contract for 4 years of guaranteed above-inflation pay rises and limited demand levels.
Anyway, the vast majority of newly-graduating doctors enter the NHS as serfs for at least 4 years in training programmes, even in my day, when it was 12 months as PRHO and 3 years as GP trainee. i gather it is now 2 years as ‘foundation’ serf, followed by 4-8 years as ‘senior serf’, before one becomes a junior senior doctor.
It is what we make of it. Government is making a ruin of NHS so that they can profit from private medicine.
We need a renewed, revised Government and NHS policy and social care policy and economic policy that is fit for a supposedly civilised country, which UK currently is not.

paul cundy 14 June, 2023 10:10 pm

Dear All,
One of the many reasons why they are leaving is because when they do “lead” and show their head above the parapets, as you have called them to do, (e.g. challenge the minor minions maintaining that you can’t do this or that, despite it being myth and mind numbingly obvious) your documented history is to NOT support them. Until you change this aspect none of us will have confidence that you are actually supportive of we who pay our professional body.
Paul Cundy
GMC 2582641

Fred Staude 15 June, 2023 10:58 am

“It’s not rocket science” says GMC chief…

…but it is brain surgery.
(I’ll get my coat)

Some Bloke 15 June, 2023 11:18 am

dam..Fred, you beat me to it!
yes, it’s brain surgery. they are litterally doing my head in!

Kavita Pancholi 15 June, 2023 12:38 pm

The most worrying thing for me is dealing with such complex problems in GP in an official 10 minute consultation. And when things go wrong, they take as much time and resources as they needs to investigate even simple issues. The 10 minute consultation seems very unfair. It would be so enjoyable and useful for patients and doctors alike to use as much time as it takes to resolve the issue in hand. Is this too much to ask?

Truth Finder 16 June, 2023 11:00 am

Why are we being led or regulated by a non professional? It is not appropriate.

Decorum Est 16 June, 2023 3:28 pm

‘Why are we being led or regulated by a non professional? It is not appropriate.’

It’s much worse than that!

The Locum 16 June, 2023 4:30 pm

‘There is no cavalry of GPs or other doctors that’s going to come over the hill in the immediate term.’

Might I add funding or interest to this quote