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Survey: Unsustainable pressure leading to GP burn out

29 July 2014

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Significant numbers of GPs are ‘burnt-out’ and seriously considering emigration or early retirement, a survey launched by a practice has revealed. 

Medical practice director Andrew McHugh and his colleagues at Horsefair Surgery in Oxfordshire launched the survey after issues recruiting a salaried GP. 

After speaking to other surgeries in Oxfordshire, the practice realised they were not along in being unable to recruit. 

Between 30 June and 24 July 2014 the practice received more than 2,750 responses from GPs across England. 

More than 73% of respondents said that one or more GPs in their practice is suffering from ‘burnout’ due to increasing work pressures. 

Most GPs (96%) said their practice is experiencing “an ever-increasing and unsustainable” workload. 

More than half of the GPs aged 45-54 said they will either retire early or take a career break within the next five years. 

And a tenth (11%) of younger GPs, aged 35-44 said they intend to emigrate in the next five years. 

Although 54% of GPs feel their practice will not exist in five year’s time, 66% said that even if the partnership model of general practice collapses, they would be unwilling to work for a private provider. 

But GPs were split between those who would feel comfortable rejecting work from secondary and community care if unable to recruit sufficient doctors and practice nurses (42%) and those who would not (40%). 

Across the board, it was reported hard to recruit GP partners (56%), salaried GPs (48%) and locum GPs (51%). 

In the conclusion to the report, Andrew McHugh wrote: “General practice is facing a crisis and this crisis, unless faced urgently, will leave [us] so depleted as to be unable to deliver the government’s strategy for primary care. 

“This study has identified a crisis in general practice. It is now a matter of urgency that the root causes of the crisis are identified and addressed.” 

McHugh called for an independent commission into the state of primary care, including community nursing.