One in three GPs considering retirement within five years, BMA poll reveals

One in three GPs are considering retirement within five years, according to a 'deeply worrying' BMA poll that reveals a profession in crisis.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: poll reveals stark reality of GP crisis (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: poll reveals stark reality of GP crisis (Photo: Pete Hill)

GP leaders warned that without rapid action to tackle GP workload the NHS could soon face ‘a situation where we do not have enough GPs to deliver effective care to patients’.

The latest findings released from a landmark BMA survey of more than 15,000 GPs – over a third of the entire workforce – reveal soaring levels of stress and many GPs planning to switch to part-time working or move abroad.

Findings released last week from the same poll showed that nine out of 10 GPs believe heavy workload is undermining patient care.

Unmanageable GP stress

The latest results unveiled by the BMA reveal that almost seven out of 10 GPs report high levels of work-related stress, with 16% saying they face stress that is both significant and unmanageable.

A total of 28% of GPs currently working full time say they would consider switching to part-time work, while 9% said they would consider moving abroad. Seven percent said they would consider quitting medicine altogether.

Crumbling morale appears to have taken its toll among GP trainees too, with 19% considering working abroad before 2020.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This poll lays bare the stark reality of the crisis facing the GP workforce.

Pressure on GPs

‘It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity.

‘GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients. Many GPs are facing burnout from increased stress.’

The GPC chairman said it was ‘absurd’ given the GP crisis to see political leaders ‘attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next parliament’.

He warned: ‘Since it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this timeframe. These pledges blindly ignore the recruitment and retention crisis that is draining the numbers of GPs we already have.

‘We need politicians to focus on addressing the pressures facing GP services, so that we retain the current GP workforce and attract young doctors to become GPs. If we do not have an honest, open debate about the future of general practice, we could soon be in a situation where we do not have enough GPs to deliver effective care to patients.’

Top five factors identified by GPs responding to the poll as 'negatively impacting on their commitment to a career in general practice':

  • Workload - 71%
  • Inappropriate and unresourced transfer of work into general practice - 54%
  • Insufficient time with each patient - 43%
  • Constant changes to contracts and working arrangements - 41%
  • Excessive regulation of GPs - 39%

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