Third of GPs 'considering retiring'
A third of GPs are considering retirement in the next five years, a large scale survey has found.
About one in five (19%) trainees said they are considering working abroad before 2020 while only a third (35%) said they would not recommend it as a career, with a further 18% unsure.
The poll was carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA), which said the results question the feasibility of election pledges that promise to dramatically increase the number of GPs in the next five years.
It pointed out that as it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this timeframe and the pledges "blindly ignore the recruitment and retention crisis that is draining the numbers" currently in practice.
The survey questioned 15,560 GPs, with a lmost three in 10 (28%) who are currently working full-time saying they are thinking about moving to part-time hours and 7% considering quitting medicine altogether.
About a third (34%) said they are considering retiring from general practice in the next five years.
More than two-thirds (68%) said that while manageable, they experience a significant amount of work-related stress, but one in six (16%) feel their stress is significant and unmanageable.
Nearly four in 10 (37%) said they feel that their current workload is too much to cope with, while more than half (53%) said it is generally manageable but too heavy at times.
When asked to rank the top factors that most negatively impact on their personal commitment to their roles, nearly three-quarters (71%) cited an excessive workload, more than half (54%) said unresourced work being moved into general practice and 43% said not enough time with their patients.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: "This poll lays bare the stark reality of the crisis facing the GP workforce. A third of GPs are considering leaving the health service in the next five years and a significant number are also thinking about reducing their working hours.
"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, especially the increasing numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care.
"Instead GPs are being taken away from treating patients by pointless paperwork or other work that has often been moved without proper resourcing into the community. Many GPs are facing burnout from increased stress.
"In this climate, it is absurd that in the recent leaders' debate, political parties were attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next parliament.
"Rather than playing a numbers game, 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."
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "These findings confirm what the College has been saying for some time about the chronic lack of family doctors across the country, and the devastating impact this could have on the future of general practice, the wider NHS, and most importantly, our patients.
"Highly trained and experienced GPs are leaving the profession in growing numbers because of the intense and increasing pressures that we are facing, and not enough medical students are entering general practice to replace them. This is a genuine danger to patient safety - and to the wellbeing of hardworking family doctors and our teams.
"Despite our best efforts to conduct 90% of NHS patient contacts for just 8.4% of the budget, we simply don't have enough GPs to cope with the increasing demand of our growing and ageing population.
"It costs £247,000 to put a family doctor through postgraduate training, so we must do whatever we can to 'recruit, retain, and return' as many GPs to frontline patient care in the UK as possible."