England Faces Impending Crisis as Two in Five GPs Plan to Quit

 Author : Medico Partners

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Posted on : 20 Jul 2017

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England Faces Impending Crisis as Two in Five GPs Plan to Quit

The study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, has found that two out of five GPs have planned to quit due to the workforce planning across the country. With England facing an 'impending healthcare crisis, seven out of 10 GPs in the South West aiming to change their working pattern in order to reduce patient contact - either by leaving patient care, taking a career break or reducing their hours.

The University of Exeter researchers, whose work was funded by the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research, said that this 'snapshot of low morale' may point to a 'deeper and more imminent crisis than previously anticipated' with regards to GP shortages nationwide.

However, the Department of Health pointed out that the research, which included more than 2,000 GPs, was carried out last year, which could mean its GP Forward View £2.4bn rescue package for the profession may have moved things on.

Lead researcher Professor John Campbell, professor of general practice and primary care at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: 'We carried out this survey because of a nationally recognised crisis in the shortage of GPs across the country, and our findings show an even bleaker outlook than expected for GP cover, even in an area which is often considered desirable, and which has many rural communities.

'If GPs have similar intentions to leave or reduce their hours in other regions, as many are reporting, the country needs to take robust action more swiftly and urgently than previously thought.'

The research team sent surveys to 3,370 GPs across the South West, receiving responses from 2,248. Of these, more than half (54%) reported low morale, and this group was particularly likely to also say they were planning to quit the profession.

The researchers concluded that this highlighted 'the magnitude of the potential GP shortage crisis that is imminently facing the region, and reflect the current state of general practice in the UK'.

Professor Campbell, who is also a practising GP, suggested that the 'numerous Government-led initiatives' which are underway to address recruitment would not 'address the underlying serious malaise which is behind this data'.

He said: 'We are in a perilous situation in England, with a poor morale of the current GP workforce, and major difficulties with recruitment and retention of GPs reflected in the stark overall reduction in the GP workforce. Reactive, sticking-plaster approaches are not the answer.'

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse: 'Whist the Government has been focussing on 5,000 more GPs, these findings highlight a far greater scale of workforce reduction.

'The Government and NHS England need to focus on retaining doctors, not just looking at new recruits.'

The news comes as a UK-wide BMA survey of 16,000 GPs carried out two years ago found that 34% were thinking of retiring from the profession within five years. Over one-quarter (28%) of respondents who currently worked full time said they were considering going down to part time.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP chair, said she was 'confident' that last year's £2.4bn NHS England rescue package for general practice 'is that long-term solution', and that the RCGP is, therefore, calling for it to be 'implemented in full, swiftly and effectively'.

A DH spokesperson said: 'This sample survey was carried out before we launched our world-leading plan to improve conditions in general practice – so it doesn’t take into account our steps to improve morale and retention by investing £2.4 billion more into primary care, making extra payments to GPs, and cutting red tape while increasing flexible working.'

Reference from Pulse | One in seven GPs plan to leave or reduce hours finds DH-backed study | http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/your-practice/practice-topics/employment/one-in-seven-gps-plan-to-leave-or-reduce-hours-finds-dh-backed-study/20034235.article

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