The notion of a ‘part-time’ GP is often anything but, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Last reviewed: 11 October 2021
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Responding to reports1 this morning that the “average GP is now working a three-day week”, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

“The very notion of a ‘part-time ‘ GP is often anything but. The data used in this article actually shows that the average hours worked by a GP in England is around 40 hours per week – the same as most full-time jobs.

“To focus purely on ‘sessions’ is an incredibly crude measure. Each morning or afternoon ‘session’ of work for a GP is defined as 4 hours and 10 minutes long. In reality, the sheer scale of workload means that both a morning session and an afternoon session often extend well beyond this, which means many GPs in reality work 10 to 12-hour days.

“When even ‘part-time’ GPs are working at such a pace, it’s clear to see that current levels of workload – made worse by piles of admin and bureaucracy - are not sustainable. By removing some of this unnecessary bureaucracy, GPs would be able to devote more of their working hours to seeing patients who need them.

“GPs who work fewer sessions or hours in practices may well be dedicating time elsewhere in the NHS and wider health system – for example training younger doctors and medical students, working in hospitals or conducting research to ensure better healthcare in the future.

“We should also get away from the idea that working flexibly in itself is a bad thing. There are more women than men working as GPs today, and the fact that general practice offers flexibility that allows people of all backgrounds to balance their GP work with other commitments, such as family and caring responsibilities, should be celebrated and not condemned. Without embracing this, we risk losing these talented clinicians all together and therefore making access and workload problems a lot worse.”


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.

  1. Average GP working three-day week after ‘worrying’ drop in hours’, Daily Telegraph, 11 October 2021