The survey of 1,004 GPs across the UK has found that 56 per cent said they expect to retire or leave before they are 60. The Health Secretary has described the figures as "worrying" but GP leaders are not surprised by them. The survey found that:
• 25 per cent of GPs said they will definitely leave before reaching 60.
• 32 per cent said thought they would probably not retire or leave general practice by that age.
• Only 6 per cent of GPs said they were definitely not planning to leave the profession before they turned 60.
Twenty-seven per cent of GPs cited the volume of consultations as the main reason why fewer medical students and foundation doctors are choosing to specialise in general practice. "The thought of a career that involves a lot of these frustrations puts you off ... the work is so stressful it's putting current and prospective GP trainees off," said one current undergraduate in reply to the survey. The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) is currently running a recruitment drive in a bid to boost training applications, which have fallen again this year.
It is believed to be the first time that a medical royal college has used a video campaign to increase the numbers of medical graduates who are choosing general practice as a medical speciality. In making the video, the college aims to tackle media stereotypes of general practice as less stimulating and exciting than other medical careers. It hopes to mirror the success of similar recruitment initiatives employed by other professions, such as teaching, to boost numbers entering the profession.
The RCGP estimates that at least 10,000 GPs will be needed by 2020 to meet the needs of an ageing and growing population, with an increasing number of patients needing treatment for multiple and complex illnesses.
In the three years up to 2013 the number of unfilled GP posts almost quadrupled. Over the last five years consultations have shot up by an estimated 60 million a year. Volume of consultations, working hours, standing within the profession and pay along with their portrayal in the media and workload were among the reasons given for leaving. The working hours were blamed by 19 per cent while 20 per cent pointed to their standing within the profession, as a reason to leave.
Figures from 2014 show that last year 104 GP practices applied to NHS authorities for permission to stop accepting patients - more than twice as many as two years before. A further 45 surgeries asked to "shrink" their practice boundaries, throwing existing patients off their lists, while 100 more practices are threatened with closure. Doctors said they were unable to cope with "vast numbers of people" moving into some parts of the country, forcing them to close their lists to newcomers, or divert existing patients to new surgeries.
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Will you retire at 55? What would make you stay?
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