GP morale and work-life balance worst in medical profession

GP morale remains in decline and is lower than for any other group of doctors, the latest BMA survey of the medical profession reveals.

Dr Richard Vautrey: GP morale dangerously low (Photo: Alex Deverill)
Dr Richard Vautrey: GP morale dangerously low (Photo: Alex Deverill)

GPs scored lower than any other branch of medicine in the latest quarterly tracker survey from the doctors’ union.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said ‘perilously poor’ morale was caused by increasing demand, falling resources, staff shortages and increasing unfunded workload.

GPs in the survey of 451 doctors scored an average of just 2.2 out of 5 for morale, down from 2.6 last year. Junior doctors came top at 2.9.

Low job satisfaction

GPs also reported the lowest average satisfaction with their work-life balance at 4.4 out of 10, compared with an overall average of 4.6, and with junior doctors at 5.8.

Questioned about current workload, GPs were more likely than other groups to report their workload as unmanageable or unsustainable at 74%, compared with 53% for consultants and 18% for junior doctors.

Over 60% of GPs reported having to work outside regular hours in the last month, compared with 45% of consultants and 24% of junior doctors. Over 90% said the reason for working additional hours was excessive workload.

GPs were also more likely than other doctors to consider retiring early, at 64%.

Morale 'perilously poor'

Dr Vautrey said: ‘This snapshot of GP opinion confirms that GP morale remains at a perilously poor level. Close to two thirds of GPs feel their morale is low or very low, with just 8% rating their morale as high and none saying it is very high. GP morale is significantly behind the average for other doctors while GPs record the lowest level of satisfaction for work life balance when compared to other members of the profession.

‘This chimes with other BMA research that shows as many as seven out of 10 GPs are considering retiring early. Many medical graduates are turning their backs on general practice, as demonstrated by the fact that more than 400 vacancies were recorded for GP trainee positions across the England this year.

‘It is clear that this is being caused by a working environment characterised by rising patient demand, falling resources, staff shortages and more unfunded care being moved from hospitals and into the community. The recent announcement of extra funding for GP infrastructure is an encouraging sign that politicians are beginning to realise the magnitude of the problems facing GP services, but is a long way off being enough.

'Besides needing to make sure this funding is directed into what it is needed for – GP premises – we also need a wide ranging programme of long-term investment to core funding to that will allow GP practices to take on more GPs and nurses to meet the growing needs of our patients.’

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