Over a third of GPs in England may likely quit direct patient care within five years, doctors told researchers for the Eleventh National GP Worklife Survey.
Some 33.4% of GPs said there was a ‘considerable’ or high likelihood of them stopping ‘direct patient care’ within five years. Amongst GPs aged 50 and above, 60.5% felt this way.
Time and clinical care pressures were cited as major pressures, with some 96.5% of respondents agreeing with the statement ‘the patients I see are presenting with increasingly complex care needs’.
Interestingly, GPs reported the least stress from sourcing a locum, and completing patient forms.
In the 2021 survey, researchers contacted practices rather than individual GPs, and asked the practices to send the survey to all GPs working in the practice. That meant that locums were more likely to be included in the sample. Some 106 locums were amongst the 2,277 respondents.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “The profession should not be losing any GPs to stress, let alone up to a third of as suggested in these findings. Far more needs to be done to help relieve these pressures.
“Our experience at NASGP over the last 25 years is that many GPs who left their current GP roles through stress do often return as locums, striking a much more comfortable work-life balance, often with similar responsibilities but more control.
“NASGP Locum Chambers in particular offer a safe professional haven for these GPs, and our new Professional Support Toolkit can help any GP who feels under pressure and wants to do something about it.
“Alongside better recruitment, and better support to retain GPs in post, we should be considering a far more agile and connected community of GP locums in the NHS and able to better support practices. The fact that GPs are finding it less stressful to manage locums suggests that we may at least be getting that part right.”
The survey is available to read in full online.
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