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Over a third of GPs in Scotland will retire within five years

by Alice Harrold
14 December 2016

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More than a third of Scottish GPs are planning to retire from general practice within the next five years, BMA research has shown.

A survey of 900 GPs found that 35% of respondents are planning to retire by 2021.

In addition, one in five of those surveyed said they were planning to move to part time working.

GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt said GPs are “overworked and intensely frustrated”.

More than half of GPs said workload was having the most negative impact on their commitment to being a GP, while 21% said the biggest factor was unresourced work being moved into general practice.

Others cited insufficient time with patients as being the biggest factor in deciding their future as a GP.

The findings follow last week’s figures from the BMA that showed the vast majority of GPs believe consultation times are too short, and the quality of patient care is suffering because of the pressure they are under.

Overall, 6% of those who responded said they were thinking of quitting general practice altogether and another 6% said they were planning to move abroad.

“This survey lays bare the stark reality facing the GP workforce,” said Dr McDevitt.

“It’s deeply worrying that more than a third of GPs are planning on retiring in the next five years and a significant number are also planning to reduce their working hours.

“It is clear that increasing pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having outstripped capacity.

“GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients, especially the rising numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care.”

The BMA is calling on the Government to focus on addressing the pressures facing general practice in order to retain the current workforce and attract new trainees.

Dr McDevitt said: “If we do not ensure that general practice receives direct support and funding to make it an attractive career option for doctors, we could soon be in a situation where we do not have enough GPs to deliver effective care to patients.”

The Scottish government has committed to an additional £500m for primary care by the end of this parliament.