GP leaders described the findings as ‘incredibly concerning’, warning they could have ‘disastrous’ consequences for the NHS.
Published in BMJ Open, the study asked over 170 GP trainees about their leaving intentions. All were employed in the West Midlands area and within three months of achieving their CCT.
Two thirds (63%) said they expected to be working in general practice within six months of qualifying as either a salaried, locum or other non-partner GP.
This figure halved to just one in three (34%) at five years – but the proportion expecting to become partners rose from 5% to 34% over the same period.
Researchers, from the University of Warwick, found that participants who said their specialist training had well-prepared them for a career in general practice were more likely to signal that they would work in the NHS in the near future.
Perceptions of workload pressures, morale within training practices and media and political commentary were other key factors that influenced trainees’ likelihood to see themselves in general practice.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Unfortunately, these findings are a clear indication that trainees are being put off from a career in general practice because they are seeing first-hand the intense resource and workload pressures GPs and our teams are facing across the country.
‘Workload in general practice has risen 16% over the last seven years, but resources for our profession has declined, and our workforce has not risen at pace.
‘It’s a massive shame because if properly resourced – with adequate investment and workforce – being a GP can be the best job in the world, with lots of variety and numerous career opportunities.’
The GP Forward View could be ‘the lifeline general practice needs’, she added, but it must be delivered ‘in full and as a matter of urgency’ to do so.
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘These findings underscore the mounting crisis that is threatening the delivery of patient care in GP practices across the country.
‘It is hardly surprising that the next generation of GPs are having doubts about their career in the NHS after a decade of underinvestment that has left many local GP services cash strapped and operating from inadequate facilities.
‘Constant sniping from politicians, who often expect GPs to deliver more on shrinking budgets, has hardly helped the morale of a workforce at breaking point.
‘We need the government to act urgently to implement the recommendations of the GP Forward View and provide general practice with the resources, including the right staffing levels, that the public deserves.’