Half of GPs tempted to quit after working through COVID-19 pandemic

More than half of GPs are considering quitting the profession or retiring early after working under intense pressure through the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll reveals.

COVID-19 pandemic toll on GPs (Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images)
COVID-19 pandemic toll on GPs (Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images)

A total of 51% of GPs said they were considering quitting or retiring early, according to the poll of more than 2,500 members of medical defence organisation the MDDUS.

Nearly two thirds of GPs reponding to the poll said they were more concerned now about potential legal and regulatory action than they were during the first wave of COVID-19 - and among this group a staggering 76% said they were considering quitting general practice completely.

More than a third of GPs reported finding remote consultations with patients 'very or extremely challenging' - and around two in five of these respondents reported lacking the tools to make decisions about patient care and finding working conditions stressful.

COVID-19 pressure

The poll findings expose the extent of pressure on GPs despite just over half saying their workplace is better prepared for COVID-19 now than during the first wave.

More than four in five GPs who took part in the survey - 81% in total - said their day-to-day work had been disrupted by staff needing to self-isolate - and 29% said infection control measures adopted in primary care had undermined their ability to care for patients.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said: 'The pandemic has left doctors struggling to cope with patient care, their mental wellbeing and their desire to stay in the NHS for the long term.

'The planning underway now to rebuild the UK must address this triple whammy of concerns to protect the NHS, its staff and their patients in the long-term. Most urgently there should be a step change in mental health support.

Medico-legal challenge

'Initiatives so far are welcome, but piecemeal in the face of the immediate pressures and long-term challenges our survey exposes.'

Mr Kenny urged regulators to commit to 'ensuring fairness for doctors facing complaints in the wake of COVID-19'.

FIndings from the MDDUS poll come just days after GPonline revealed that workload in general practice has continued to surge in the early weeks of 2021, with practices across England delivering an extra 400,000 appointments in the first three weeks of the year compared with a comparable period in 2020.

Polling by the BMA last year found that one in six GPs planned to quit or retire early after the pandemic - while many more planned to reduce their working hours.

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