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Over 40 per cent of GPs intend to quit within five years, Wessex study suggests

Numbers with intention to leave up by nearly a third

March 15th 2019

Tagged: Research

By Ailsa Colquhoun

A survey of GPs has revealed that over 40 per cent intend to leave general practice within the next five years, an increase of nearly a third since 2014.

The survey of 929 GPs conducted by the University of Warwick has revealed that recent national NHS initiatives are failing to address unmanageable workloads for GPs and left them unconvinced that the NHS can respond to the increasing challenges facing general practice.

The survey conducted in the Wessex region follows up a similar survey in the same region in 2014, allowing the researchers to identify changes in attitude over time.

Published in the journal BMJ Open, it reveals that 42.1 per cent of GPs intend to leave or retire from NHS general practice within the next five years compared to 31.8 per cent of those surveyed in the same region in 2014, an increase of almost a third.

Workload was identified as the most significant issue with 51per cent of GPs reporting that they were working longer hours than in 2014. This has been linked to the size of the GP workforce not keeping pace with the growing healthcare needs associated with the changing age profile of the UK population,  and cut-backs in community and social care services.

The researchers argue that the survey paints a picture of GPs feeling increasingly demoralised and looking towards either reducing their hours or retiring altogether.

Lead author Professor Jeremy Dale, from Warwick Medical School, said: “Many of the changes in the Long Term Plan are desperately needed.  But in the context of low and worsening morale and job satisfaction, the question is can these be introduced quickly enough now to stem the flow of GPs who are bringing forward their plans to leave the NHS.”

The survey received responses from 929 GPs working in in the Wessex area and is broadly representative of the demographic of GPs working in the NHS, with a slightly larger proportion of responses from older GPs.