Hundreds of practices in England are on the brink of closure as partners and salaried GPs approach 60, a new analysis by GP Online has revealed.
At over 1,000 practices, more than half the GPs are over 55, and at 603, at least half of the GPs are aged over 60.
At a handful of practices the picture is dire: at 5% of practices two third of GPs are over 60 and at 3% three quarters or more are beyond retirement age.
Regional results show that Mid and South Essex ICB – an area NASGP partners with – 26% of practices rely on a workforce where half or more of the GPs are 60-plus. By contrast another NASGP partnership area, Hampshire IOW ICB, just 1.5% of practices are run by 60-plus GPs.
In total, the analysis shows, 23% of the GP workforce in England is aged over 55.
Pressure on practice budgets and workforce have made GP partner and salaried roles increasingly unappealing for GPs. In October GPs reported being told that money for a six-percent pay rise announced in the summer had still not come through.
Early-careers GPs are struggling with stress at work. Last summer the GMC found that burnout was rife amongst GP registrars. The percentage of registrars at high risk of burnout has risen from 18% to 21% in the 12 months to July.
At the other end of the profession, many GPs are retiring early in the face of onerous pension problems. Last month England’s local medical committees passed a motion condemning PCSE as ‘not fit for purpose’ and called for its contract to be retendered: one representative warned that GPs were quitting over the issue.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “The reality is, this is all highly symptomatic of years of poor planning and under-investment, and no doubt goes a long way to explaining why general practice is already in this predicament, and will only get worse.
“Any future plans for general practice must include discussions with the ever-growing body of GPs working as locums, exploring how we can best support general practice.”
Find out more about the state of the GP workforce by signing up for membership, including our weekly digest.