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Dr David Bailey: ‘There will be more sickness absence and higher attrition rates’

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that people in the workplace over 60 can generally perform as well as their younger counterparts. But without greater flexibility on hours and part-time working GPs will find it very difficult to cope with the increased workload year on year when the retirement age goes up.

The problems with the increasing intensity of GPs’ jobs are partly down to government policy. If you don’t allow more flexibility on hours or greater recognition of the hard work there is going to be more sickness absence among GPs, higher attrition rates and more retiring early.

It’s difficult to argue against the idea that in the UK we need to work longer.  But there will be problems for the Government in raising the retirement age for GPs if it is also introducing policies at the same time to make GPs work harder and jump through more hoops. The changes to the contract – such as altering the QOF thresholds – are an example of this.

The Government continually seem to be giving the impression that GPs are working less and less hard. And some denizens of the media take the same view. The Government wants to raise the retirement age, but at the same time it is expecting GPs to do more.

Dr David Bailey is deputy chair of the BMA’s pension subcommittee