Viewpoint: Politicians must act now to avert GP workforce crisis, says Dr Beth McCarron-Nash

Writing for GPonline.com, GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash tells politicians they must act now to tackle collapsing GP morale and avert a workforce crisis.

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: time to value GPs (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: time to value GPs (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

It will come as no surprise to GPs reading the BMA quarterly opinion poll that general practice is heading for disaster as doctors find themselves pushed to the brink of early retirement.

Almost half of GPs questioned in the BMA’s survey say that increasing pressures and a rise in their workload was becoming unmanageable or unsustainable at all times.

Over half of all GPs say their morale is either 'low' or 'very low' and over a quarter of doctors have said they were considering leaving the profession.

As we all know this is due to practices facing an unprecedented combination of rising patient demand, in particular from an ageing population and declining resources.

Unfortunately the increasing and unsustainable stress being unfairly placed on GPs who are facing this crisis is now threatening the long-term future of general practice.

GPs are working harder than ever before but are simply being left with no choice but to leave the profession and the patients they care so much about as almost six out of 10 GPs say they have considered early retirement.

At the other end of the career spectrum fewer young doctors are choosing a career in general practice. Applications this year have fallen 15% in the first recruitment round with doctors deciding against general practice in favour of other specialties. Only pathology and psychiatry are less popular than general practice. Recruitment and retention both need urgent solutions if we are to avert a workforce crisis.

As GPs continue to do their best we need the government to listen to what our members are telling us and find a workable solution before we risk destroying a profession that is so highly valued by our patients.

Politicians must realise that to meet these demanding challenges they have to begin to value the hard work and dedication of GPs and provide them with the necessary support they deserve.

The government must send out a clear message of support and understanding to both doctors and the public and work with us to ensure we do not end up with fewer GPs to care for the needs of our patients.

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