Half of GPs feel 'unable to cope', GMC report shows

Half of GPs feel unable to cope with their workload - twice the level across all doctors, according to a GMC report.

Just 9% of GPs 'always or usually feel able to cope' while rarely or never working beyond their rostered hours, compared with 29% of doctors overall, according to the GMC's 2019 State of medical education and practice report.

The report - which came as health and social care secretary Matt Hancock revealed that GP trainee recruitment for 2019 had hit record levels - highlighted strong recruitment to general practice and other 'shortage-hit specialties'.

But it warned that retention of all doctors remains challenging and warned that the NHS is more reliant than ever before on overseas doctors. The report found that in 2019, for the first time, the number of British-trained doctors who joined the medical register was outstripped by non-UK graduates who joined.

GP workload

Research by the regulator found that while 50% of GPs often feel unable to cope and often work beyond their rostered hours, just 26% of doctors overall feel this way.

GPs were also significantly more likely than other doctors to have reduced their working hours over the past year, the GMC report shows. One in five (21%) doctors overall had reduced their hours in clinical practice in the past 12 months, compared with 36% of GPs.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: 'Doctors are in short supply and so demand is high worldwide. Overseas doctors have long played crucial roles in UK health services. But now our workforce is more diverse than ever, at a time when pressures on our health services make retaining doctors a huge challenge.

‘It is vital that the diversity we see across our hospitals and surgeries is embraced by those in leadership roles. Medicine is a highly mobile profession, and the UK has traditionally done well attracting doctors from abroad. But doctors must get the support they need if they are likely to stay here long term. In the past that has not always been the case.'

GP training

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'While it is encouraging that more doctors are entering training, the numbers are still nowhere near enough to meet patient need.

'As highlighted in the report, GPs and hospital doctors continue to face immense pressures on a day-to-day basis due to demand exceeding capacity and is likely to worsen as a result of other factors such as punitive pension taxation rules, which means doctors are being forced to leave the profession early or cut their hours.

'The government must address these constraints in order to improve both recruitment and retention. This will require improved resources for GP practices and hospitals to ensure doctors feel supported to provide safe and quality care.

'Doctors’ wellbeing must also be made a priority, as well as ensuring continued recruitment from overseas and addressing pension reform.'

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