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Nearly a third of GPs say they will quit within five years

by Beth Gault
3 December 2018

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Nearly a third (31%) of GPs say they are ‘unlikely’ to still be working in general practice in five years’ time, with stress cited as the main reason, the RCGP has found.
The college surveyed 1,094 GPs in England, also finding that swathes of practices are set to close, amid vast issues with recruitment.
The survey found that:

  • 5% of GPs report that their practice is likely to close in the next year (not practices that are merging with others);
  • 37% of GPs report that in the practice where they work, there are GP vacancies that have been open for more than three months. 

The college has also analysed workforce data to see which areas are facing the largest rises and decreases in GP numbers.
It found that the areas with the biggest increases in GP numbers between September 2015 and Sept 2018 were:

  • NHS Liverpool CCG (87)
  • NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG (67)
  • NHS Kernow CCG (54)
  • NHS Lambeth CCG (45)
  • NHS Gloucestershire CCG (41)

While the areas with the biggest decreases in GP numbers in the same time period were:

  • NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG (-52)
  • NHS Walsall CCG (-33)
  • NHS Portsmouth CCG (-29)
  • NHS Hull CCG (-22)
  • NHS Thanet CCG (-19)

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘This is gravely concerning. We are talking about highly-trained, highly-skilled doctors, that the NHS is at risk of losing – some will retire, which is to be expected, but many are planning to leave earlier than they otherwise would have done.
‘All GPs are overworked, many are stressed, and some are making themselves seriously ill working hours that are simply unsafe, for both themselves and their patients – it is making them want to leave the profession.’
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘These findings are alarming and will cause a great deal of worry for patients who would be forced to find a new practice.
‘While GPs strive to provide high quality care to all of their patients, statistics such as this speak volumes to the huge amount of pressure they are under; rising demand from a growing population with increasingly complex conditions means that workload is nearing insurmountable levels.
‘Given the stress this causes and impact that it has on doctors’ wellbeing, it is unsurprising that many are questioning their own futures and the future of their practices.’ 
Both the RCGP and BMA called for the forthcoming NHS long-term plan to address the problems.
Richard Miller, practice manager at the Great Bentley Surgery in Colchester said:These findings have just confirmed what we already knew. It’s a disaster about to happen and the Government has been warned about this for many years.
Of course they will churn out the usual line that they are investing more money in the NHS than ever and that they are doing X, Y and Z to boost recruitment. It’s too little too late as it takes a good 10 years to fully train a GP.’
A version of this story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.