GPs report record levels of stress and job dissatisfaction

GP job dissatisfaction and stress are at their highest level for over a decade, according to a DH-commissioned study.

The GP Worklife Survey, produced by the University of Manchester, found that the overall job satisfaction reported by GPs in 2015 was lower than in any other survey undertaken since 2001.

The largest decreases in job satisfaction between 2012, when the survey was last undertaken, and 2015 related to hours worked and remuneration.

The survey of more than 2,500 GPs found that levels of stress among GPs are now at their highest since the survey began in 1998. Stress levels had increased on all 14 ‘stressors’ covered by the research.

Respondents were asked to rate 14 factors according to how much pressure they experienced on a five-point scale. GPs reported most stress with increased workloads, imposed job changes, having insufficient time to do the job justice, paperwork and increased demand from patients.

More than 90% of GPs reported considerable or high pressure from increasing workloads.

The survey also found that the proportion of GPs expecting to quit direct patient care in the next five years had increased since 2012.

Some 13.1% of GPs under 50 said they planned to quit in the next five years, compared with 8.9% in 2012. While 60.9% of over 50s plan to quit in the next five years, compared with 54.1% three years ago.

Extended hours

Despite the government push for extending GP hours, the survey found that the proportion of practices operating extended hours had fallen since 2012. This year 71.5% of GPs said their practice opened extended hours on weekdays and 30.7% on weekends, compared with 75.7% and 31.9% in 2012.

The researchers concluded: ‘The respondents reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction since before the introduction of their new contract in 2004, the highest levels of stress since the start of the survey series and an increase since three years ago in the proportion of GPs intending to quit direct patient care within the next five years.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'This important survey provides yet more evidence to back-up the BMA's repeated warnings that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country.

'It is no surprise that stress levels have reached their highest level for almost 20 years, as GP services are under unprecedented workload pressure against a background of mounting bureaucracy and falling resources.

'We need the government to accept the severity of this problem and address the huge pressures facing GP practices, guarantee that GPs are given the resources to be able to deliver the services that patients deserve and need, and work to ensure that general practice once again becomes an attractive career choice for the next generation of doctors.'

Picture: JH Lancy

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