A new poll of 11,000 GPs shows that one in six family doctors are thinking of leaving the profession.
And the British Medical Association (BMA), which commissioned the study, believes a number of factors are contributing to a decline in morale, which is causing doctors to consider their positions.
GPs said fears over privatisation, a feeling that the values of general practice are being undermined, and worsening patient care are causing them to contemplate pursuing alternative careers.
GPs said their morale has dipped over the last five years, with more than half (53.2%) saying the situation has become worse.
And nearly two-thirds (63.1%) said they believe NHS changes over the past decade have made it harder to practise good medicine.
Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, said: “GPs are worried about the future of general practice in this country.
“They have concerns about the negative impact current policies could ultimately have on patient care and they feel they are being attacked for achieving and surpassing Government targets. That is why the morale of GPs is low.
“While many GPs can see a case for private providers having a limited role in delivering NHS care, the majority believe the widespread introduction of private providers into general practice would not improve the quality of care patients receive.
“Private providers could struggle to recruit and retain doctors, as most young GPs aspire to become partners in a practice, or they could look to cut costs by employing fewer doctors and more of other kinds of staff.
“Care could become more fragmented putting patients at risk.”
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