Rising pressure on GPs putting off new recruits, warns GMC

GMC staff across the UK are reporting rising concern over pressure on primary care, with GPs at risk of burnout due to soaring workload and recruitment problems.

GMC: warning over pressure on primary care (Photo: JH Lancy)

A GMC report, The state of medical education and practice 2014, warns that feedback from the regulator’s regional liaison teams confirm that GPs are ‘under considerable pressure’.

Across rural and urban areas, ‘common themes’ included concerns about being overloaded with work and risk of burnout.

The regulator warned that in one part of the UK, ‘the proportion of GPs presenting to local occupational health services increased nearly five times from 2000 to 2012’.

GP burnout risk

Another area described 2013 as the worst year for two decades in for stress-related GP burnout.

The report warns that ‘there must be a danger that negative perceptions of general practice affect the number of doctors wishing to enter GP training’.

It points to data showing that just 5,100 GPs are now in training, compared with 6,031 in 2013.

Just 2.3 applications per GP training post are received compared with up to 10 per post for other specialties, the regulator warns.

Demographic change, rising demand and falling resources have had a significant impact on primary care, the report warns.

GP funding drop

The proportion of the British NHS budget spent on primary care fell from 10.3% in 2004/5 to 8.4% in 2011/12, while GP consultations rose 11% between 1995 and 2008.

Despite a rise in headcount GP numbers – the number of GPs in England grew by almost a third between 1995 and 2011, the report says – parts of the UK are experiencing huge problems with recruitment.

Up to one in five GP posts were vacant over the six years to 2010 in parts of northern England, the report warns.

In Wales, primary care must recruit an extra 50 GPs per year to ‘meet predicted demand’ – the report warns that the proportion of GPs aged over 55 rose by 42% between 2003 and 2013 in Wales.

The flow of doctors from the UK to other countries is also highlighted in the report. A total of 4,741 certificates of good standing were issued on behalf of UK-registered doctors to overseas regulators in 2013 - a statistic the GMC uses to track the movement of doctors to other countries.

Around 20% of these doctors were aged 24-27 years old.

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