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34% of GPs considering ‘retiring’: Survey

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One-third (34%) of the GPs are considering to retire in the next five years, reveals a major new survey.

The survey carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that almost all GPs feel that their heavy workload is having a negative impact on the quality of patient services and many GP practices doubted they had the ability to provide blanket seven day opening. The survey heard from 15,560 grassroots GPs and is one of the largest recent tests of opinion of the profession.

stethoThe poll also found that The BMA will be releasing answers from the survey over the next three weeks as part of the No More Games campaign2, which calls on politicians of all parties to have an honest and open debate about the future of the NHS. Key findings from the survey about the current state of GP services and patient care include:

According to the survey, only around one in ten GPs (8%) feel that the standard ten minute consultation is adequate while two thirds of GPs (67%) feel there should be longer consultations for certain groups of patients, including those with long term conditions, with one in four (25%) feeling all patients need increased time with their GP. Two-thirds (68%) of GPs believe that it is preferable to provide longer consultations of greater quality, even if it means waiting longer to see a GP for a routine appointment. More than nine in ten GPs (93%) say that their heavy workload has negatively impacted on the quality of patient services. Almost six out of ten GPs (56%) working in out of hours services feel that at times their workload is having a detrimental effect on the care they provide.

GPs are willing to explore options to improve access, with a slight majority of GPs (51%) feeling that practices should offer some form of extended hours to patients. However, almost all GPs (94%) do not feel practices should offer seven day opening in their own practices.

The new survey also revealed that GPs believe that factors that could help better deliver the essentials of general practice include increased funding (76%), more GPs (74%), longer consultation times (70%) and a reduction in bureaucracy (64%).

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP Committee chair, said: “GPs want to provide better services and spend more time with their patients, especially the increasing number of older people who often have a range of multiple health needs that require intensive, coordinated care3.

“Unfortunately, this landmark poll highlights that GPs ability to care to patients is being seriously undermined by escalating workload, inadequate resourcing and unnecessary paperwork. Many GPs do not feel they have enough time to spend with their patients and that these intense pressures are beginning to damage local services.

“While there is a willingness from GPs to look at offering extended hours, more than nine in ten GPs do not feel that their practice can provide blanket seven day services when GPs are struggling to provide even basic care to their patients. GPs also feel it is more important to provide longer consultations even if it means patients waiting longer to see a GP. And this comes at a time when politicians from all sides are making hollow and unsubstantiated pledges about dramatically increasing the number of GPs within five years4, offering guaranteed appointments within 48 hours5 or funding Sunday opening when research shows those practices open in this period saw few patients booking an appointment6.

“We need politicians of all parties to stop playing games with the NHS and making glib promises to voters that ignore the reality that many GP practices are close to breaking point. Centralised targets and headline grabbing initiatives have the potential to do more harm to patients. Political parties instead must work with GPs and patients on a long term, sustained plan that delivers high quality healthcare to the public. Better funding, more GPs and improved facilities are important factors that need to be addressed.”

It pointed out that as it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this timeframe and the pledges “blindly ignore the recruitment and retention crisis that is draining the numbers” currently in practice.

Further, almost three in 10 (28%) who are currently working full-time saying they are thinking about moving to part-time hours and 7% considering quitting medicine altogether.

About a third (34%) said they are considering retiring.