GP exodus looms as stress hits 15-year high, DH poll reveals

Almost one in ten GPs aged under 50 plan to quit direct patient care in the next five years, according to a DH poll that found the profession's stress levels have soared to a 15-year high.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: DH poll findings confirm BMA fears
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: DH poll findings confirm BMA fears

Job satisfaction among GPs in England, meanwhile, has hit a ten-year low, the DH-backed survey of more than 3,000 GPs found.

The proportion of GPs aged under 50 expecting to quit direct patient care in the next five years increased from 6.4% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2012, the poll found. This would mean almost 2,000 GPs in this age group quitting the profession.

Among GPs aged 50 and over, the proportion expecting to quit direct patient care in the next five years rose from 41.7% in 2010 to 54.1% in 2012 - around 7,000 GPs lost to the profession.

The Seventh National GP Worklife Survey, commissioned by the DH and carried out by the University of Manchester, found rising workload, paperwork and a lack of time to 'do the job justice' were the top three factors contributing to increasing stress among GPs.

A total of 86% of GPs reported considerable or high pressure from rising workload, 81% from paperwork and 78% from having too little time to do their job justice.

Among GPs who took part, 95% of GPs said they had to work 'very intensely' and 84% said they had to ‘work very fast’.

The level of overall job satisfaction in 2012 was lower than in all surveys undertaken since 2001. Just over half of respondents (57%) reported being satisfied with their job overall in 2012, while 23% were dissatisfied.

On a scale of one (extremely dissatisfied) to seven (extremely satisfied), GPs' mean satisfaction score was 4.54, the lowest since a 3.96 average score in 2001.

Hours of work and remuneration were the two factors with which satisfaction decreased the most between 2012 and the previous poll in 2010.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘It is not surprising that the authors of this government funded report reveal the lowest levels of job satisfaction amongst GPs since before the introduction of the new contract and the highest levels of stress since the start of the survey series.

‘General practice is under real pressure from spiralling patient demand, especially from an ageing population, and falling resources. Recent increases in targets and pointless box ticking have added another damaging level of bureaucracy that is diverting valuable time away from treating patients.

‘GPs want to work with the government to improve patient care and to be freed from the administrative nightmare that is adding unnecessary workload to an already overstretched service. I hope this important report can help us do that rather than being a source for misleading point scoring.’

A DH spokeswoman said: 'We know that GPs - like the rest of the NHS - are working extremely hard in the face of increasing pressures.

'We want GPs to work with us on fundamental changes to the system so that it works for them and patients.'

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