Mammoth BMA poll warns of rising GP workload

Practices are reaching 'saturation point', GP leaders have warned after a BMA poll found 97% of UK GPs describe their workload as 'intense'.

Dr Richard Vautrey: DoH must offer GPs stability in GP contract
Dr Richard Vautrey: DoH must offer GPs stability in GP contract

Nearly 40% of the entire UK GP workforce took part in the poll, the biggest BMA survey of GP opinion since 2007.

A total of 88% of GPs said workload intensity had risen over the past five years, while 84% felt that consultations were more complex.

The wide-ranging poll, which received responses from 18,757 GPs, also gauged opinion on the future of the GP contract, practice boundaries and clinical commissioning.

GP leaders demanded that the government properly resource general practice to prevent burnout and a possible recruitment crisis.

The survey found 64% of GPs said their workload was 'highly intense' while 33% said it was 'somewhat intense'. It found that 81% of GPs said work impinged on their quality of life to some or a great extent, 10% more than in 2007.


BMA POLL FINDINGS

Workload

  • 88% of GPs say workload has risen in the past five years.
  • 84% say consultations are now more complex.

GP Contract

  • 78% support UK-wide GMS contract.
  • 57% think QOF should represent existing proportion of GMS contract value.
  • 42%t say QOF should be updated every three years.

Income

  • 54% say earnings are 'about fair'.
  • 72% expect income to decrease in 2011/12.
  • 80% say seniority payments for GP partners should continue.

Health Bill

  • 85% are not an 'active member' of a commissioning group.
  • 34% are 'extremely concerned' about conflict of interest issues.
  • 75% disagree with proposals to link practice income to CCG financial performance.

Practice boundaries

  • 85% of GPs are opposed to the removal of practice boundaries.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said GP workload was becoming increasingly intense as a result of the 'creep' of work from secondary care into the community. GPs are also managing more complex conditions as patients live longer, he said.

Dr Watson said: 'This increase in workload is compounded by most practices seeing a 3% drop in income year on year. It means lots of GPs could be at risk of burnout with some saying: "Sod it, I haven't got time for this." There is also a risk of disillusionment within the profession'.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the BMA will now demand that the government provides stability in the GP contract to allow practices to invest in more staff.

'Practices are already reaching saturation point,' he said. 'If GPs are going to be expected to do more without additional resources in the future it will place a huge burden on practices. 'We need to be very careful that we don't end up back in a pre-2004 situation and face a recruitment and retention crisis.'

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