General practitioner England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

Last updated:

Health service faces GPs exodus

The NHS faces an exodus of GPs, with one in three considering retirement in five years.

chaand nagpaulThis is one of the key findings from the BMA survey with ICM of 15,560 UK GPs, which also reveals how three in 10 full-time GPs are thinking of going part-time.

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul (pictured right) said the survey results lay bare the stark reality of the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice, with one in five trainees hoping to move abroad before 2020.

He added: ‘It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity. 

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

Call for debate

The survey findings are being released over several weeks as part of the BMA No More Games campaign, which is calling for an open and honest debate about the future of the NHS.

Dr Nagpaul said the results call into question the feasibility of recent general election pledges by many of the main political parties for additional GPs.

He said: ‘Rather than playing a numbers game, we need politicians to focus on addressing the pressures facing GP services so that we retain the current GP workforce and attract young doctors to become GPs.’

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Nine per cent of all GPs would consider moving abroad and 7 per cent would consider quitting medicine altogether
  • More than two-thirds of GPs (68 per cent) state that while manageable, they experience a significant amount of work-related stress. However, one in six (16 per cent) feels their stress is significant and unmanageable
  • GPs cite various factors that have a negative impact on their commitment to being GPs, including excessive workload (71 per cent), unresourced work being moved into general practice (54 per cent) and not enough time with their patients (43 per cent). There is some regional variance, with seven in 10 GPs (70 per cent) in Northern Ireland ranking inappropriate and unresourced transfer of work into general practice in their top four negative factors, compared with 52 per cent of GPs in England
  • Despite the pressures on general practice, just under half (47 per cent) would recommend a career as a GP, but a third (35 per cent) would not advocate working in general practice.

More about GPC surveys

The story so far