Most sessional GPs not interested in partnership because of workload fears, BMA poll warns

Two thirds of sessional GPs say they have no interest in becoming a partner because they would not have control over their workload, results from the BMA sessional GP survey reveal.

Over 62% of locum and salaried GPs say they would not choose to be partners because of a lack of control over their workload.

Half (51%) say the insecurity of practice finances put them off the role, while 50% said the operational responsibilities of running a practice did not appeal to them.

The poll, carried out by the GPC sessional GP committee, includes responses from over 2,000 sessional GPs.

It found that seven in 10 locums would consider leaving the profession if a locum cap was introduced in general practice – either by quitting the professions completely (28%), moving overseas (25%) or retiring early (17%).

A further 8% said they would consider taking a career break. Over half said they had experienced illness due to work-related stress within the last year, with over one in 10 having to take time off work to recuperate - as reported exclusively by GPonline from this year's LMC conference in Edinburgh.

GP stress

The results suggest increased earnings are 'unlikely' to be an effective incentive to work in alternative locations, with six in 10 stating they 'would not move for any financial incentive or other reason.

Some 56% also said they had not received a pay increase in the past year – even though a similar proportion of salaried GPs also said they felt that their workload had increased in ‘volume, intensity and complexity’.

Four in five locums indicated they have not increased their hourly rate in the past year.

The results suggest there are twice as many female (68%) sessionals than males (31%), with the average ages at 44 and 49, respectively.

More than two in five said they had previously worked as a GP partner, while a fifth said they had already begun to draw their pension.

Dr Zoe Norris, BMA GP Sessional subcommittee chair said: ‘This wide ranging survey lays bare the real workload crisis that is threatening to overwhelm the locum and salaried GP workforce. It cannot be healthy that more than half are suffering from the impact of work related stress that is clearly being caused by a working environment starved of resources despite rising patient demand.

‘Further measures that damage locum pay could result in an exodus of these hard working professionals that will only make this already difficult situation even more problematic.

‘The urgency of these challenges cannot be understated, especially the mental health of those responsible for delivering frontline care to patients. Locum and salaried doctors must be seen as a key part of the solution to problems that are threatening to overwhelm our NHS.’

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