Date Published: 24 March 2014

60% UK GPs are considering early retirement as workloads increase

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Around 60% of general medical practitioners (GPs) in the UK are considering early retirement according to the most recent quarterly survey of GP opinion carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA). This survey took place between 4-24 Feb 2014 and included approx. 800 GPs from locations throughout the UK.

The outcome of this survey has been made available at a time when it has also been reported that medics and other personnel working in the field of general practice are increasingly struggling to cope with rising workloads. The same poll also revealed that despite the pressures they are under, many GPs are changing the way they work to make more emergency appointments available to patients.

The recent survey indicated that:

  • The vast majority of GPs said that their workload was too heavy some of the time, with over 50% reporting that their workload was unmanageable or unsustainable at all times.
  • 90% of the GPs said that they regularly worked beyond their regular hours.
  • More than 50% of the GPs reported their morale as being "low" or "very low".
  • 56.8% of the GPs said that they had considered early retirement, while 27.7% reported having considered leaving the medical profession entirely.
  • 80% of the GPs said they were changing the way they worked to meet demand for more emergency appointments.
  • 50% of the GPs said they were responding to demand for more evening appointments.

These highlights from the BMA Omnibus survey Q1 2014 present an interesting scenario of both general GP dissatisfaction with working conditions and expectations and, based on the last two points, willingness to make the changes demanded of the profession.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA's GP committee, said

" This survey demonstrates that GPs are working harder than ever before to meet the demands of their patients, as well as working innovatively to provide the service their local community want, including providing more emergency care appointments and evening consultations.
_ However, it is clear general practice is facing a workload disaster that is threatening its long term future. We are seeing morale dip to a level that I cannot remember in my twenty five years as a GP.
_ Six out of ten GPs are considering early retirement and more than a third are actively planning to end their career early. This could lead to a serious workforce crisis in general practice where we do not have enough GPs to treat patients.
_ The root cause of this crisis is that GP practices are facing an unprecedented combination of rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population, and declining resources. The government is also asking GP practices to provide more services, including many involving the transfer of hospital care into the community, without the resources required to successfully deliver them.
_ We need politicians to realise that in order to meet the challenges facing general practice, we need to value the hard work GPs are undertaking by supporting them properly. This includes expanding the number of GPs so that patients are given the time and care that they deserve. Most importantly, the government needs to work with all healthcare professionals and patients to find practical solutions to a crisis that is threatening to overwhelm general practice."

In a recent media statement, the BMA quoted Dr John Harris-Hall, a senior partner at a rural practice in Norfolk who has decided to retire after 31 years as a GP He said:.

" It has been a great privilege to care for patients at my practice for over 28 years, and I am sad to retire early, but I feel there is no other choice; enough is enough.
_ GPs are constantly being told by the government to do more with less. The increasing demand and workload pressures are leading to low morale and stress, causing many GPs, like myself, to leave the profession

Source: British Medical Association, UK

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