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More than 40% of GPs intend to quit within five years

Published on 28/02/19 at 11:07am

More than 40% of GPs intend to quit within five years according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

The researchers described a ‘worsening crisis’ in GP retention as workloads increase as most GPs reported that they were working more hours and that morale was worse than two years ago.

The research, published in the journal BMJ Open found that 42.1% of GPs planned to quit or retire from the jobs in the NHS within the next five years compared to 31.8% in 2014.

Workload was highlighted as the most significant issue with 51% reported that they were working longer hours than in 2014.

An aging population has outpaced the NHS workforce, the paper argues. Meanwhile cuts to social care place greater pressure on GPs.

Lead author Professor Jeremy Dale, from Warwick Medical School, said: “GP morale and job satisfaction has been deteriorating for many years, and we have known that this leading to earlier burnout with GPs retiring or leaving the profession early.  What this survey indicates is that this is continuing and growing despite a number of NHS measure and initiatives that had been put in place to address this over the last few years. Many GPs clearly feel that this is ‘too little, too late’ and have failed to experience any benefit from these initiatives and are unable to sustain working in NHS general practice. 

“Intensity of workload, and volume of workload were the two issues that were most closely linked to intentions to leave general practice, followed by too much time being spent on unimportant bureaucratic and administrative tasks.”

“There’s a worsening crisis in general practice. The situation is bad, it is getting worse and GPs are feeling increasingly overworked and increasingly negative about the future.”

It is hoped that the NHS Long Term Plan may reduce pressure on GPs. Increased investment and reduced bureaucracy could support health care professionals in dealing with the problems of the 21st century.

Professor Dale commented: “Views from our survey would suggest that many of the changes in the Long Term Plan, such as greater funding for general practice, increasing the GP workforce, and increasing clinical and support staff in general practice, are desperately needed.  But in the context of low and worsening morale and job satisfaction, the question is can these be introduced quickly enough now to stem the flow of GPs who are bringing forward their plans to leave the NHS.

“Recent NHS schemes to recruit more GPs haven’t paid dividends and the consequence is that GPs are still saying that their workload is getting more intense and increasingly difficult to cope with. It’s not perceived that the NHS has taken seriously the crisis facing general practice, and that some policy-led changes in themselves are actually making the workload within general practice less sustainable.

“The point that came through repeatedly in the survey was that GPs felt that we’ve gone a long way down the road of insufficient investment and insufficient reward.

Louis Goss

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