New BMA survey highlights worrying trends of burnout and future concerns from GP registrars

by BMA media team

BMA press release.

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 14 March 2024

Qualified doctors who are training to become GPs in the UK are facing increased levels of burnout and are worried about their prospects early in their careers, according to a recent BMA survey. 

From a poll of almost 3,200 GP registrars, across the UK, nearly three quarters (72.9%) said they are experiencing burnout and stress, as a direct result of their clinical posting, with over two thirds (66.4%) working outside of their scheduled hours most or every day.

Under 10% of those who took part in the survey said they intend to work as a full-time GP, with just less than 20% stating that they feel confident of their future as a GP working in the UK. The majority of GP registrars are also concerned about the financial pressure of studying to become a GP, specifically regarding exam costs, with almost all respondents saying the cost of two of the mandatory examinations - crucial stages of study to becoming a GP – were unaffordable.

The survey went on to find that almost 90% of respondents are concerned about the planned expansion of physician associates (PAs) on patient safety, and almost 65% said they have felt uncomfortable when asked to prescribe medication on behalf of a PA. As part of a BMA publication of national guidance on the scope and responsibility of PAs, the Association is calling for new regulation of PAs across the NHS. 

Dr Malinga Ratwatte, chair of the BMA GP registrars committee, said: 

“The results from this survey illustrate the enormous difficulties facing so many GP registrars today, and paint an unfortunately sad picture about the future of general practice.

“They might be shocking, but the revelations come as no surprise given the way we’re seeing our profession dismantled at the moment, with no credible solutions being implemented. With inadequate funding, worsening conditions and an ever-growing workload on the back of an exodus of doctors in full-time NHS work, it is no wonder that so many GP registrars are already stretched beyond their limits so early into their careers, and are understandably concerned for their future prospects. 

“GP partners are doing everything they can to keep their practices open and support registrars in their posts, but are in desperate need of financial support. It is essential that the Government acts quickly to address the shameful levels of pressure, caused by poor investment strategies, into a stricken medical workforce. We will continue to work with and listen to our GP registrar colleagues and highlight these results with our stakeholders so we can make strides to improve the quality of GP training and champion the concerns that many of us face so early into our careers.” 

ENDS

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.  

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