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Two out of five GPs in England intend to quit within five years

Record two out of five GPs in England intend to quit within five years

  • A record 40 per cent of GPs are considering quitting within the next five years
  • This comes from a recent report produced by the University of Manchester
  • More than half are planning to at least reduce their hours during this time
  • According to the report, GPs reported feeling that their jobs were too stressful
  • The UK has a GP recruitment crisis and academics say the results are ‘worrying’ 
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A record 40 per cent of GPs are considering quitting within the next five years, research has found.

More than half are planning to at least reduce their hours during this time as the demands of the job are so stressful.

The UK is already in the grip of a GP recruitment crisis and academics said the results would have ‘worrying’ implications for patients.

A record 40 per cent of GPs consider quitting within the next five years, research has found

Record breaking numbers plan to leave

Research by the University of Manchester involving 1,134 GPs found that 39 per cent had a ‘considerable intention’ to leave their jobs within five years.

This is the highest percentage since the survey began in 2005 and twice as many as that year when just 19 per cent were contemplating quitting.

The research also found that 14 per cent of GPs under 50 were considering leaving, up from just 6 per cent in 2005.

Another 57 per cent of doctors hope to reduce their working hours in the next five years with only 7 per cent wanting to increase them.

Figures only yesterday revealed how 1.3 million patients had been affected by surgery closures in the last five years due to GPs retiring or quitting.

A total of 445 practices have shut or merged since 2013 including 130 during the course of 2017.

GPs say they are overworked

Experts say GPs are struggling to cope with their increasingly intense workload.

Although they are working a similar number of hours compared to 2005, they claim their working days are far busier.

They have fewer breaks in between appointments and patients are sicker – as they are older – making consultations harder.

A total of 39 per cent of those GPs who want to leave their jobs hope to continue working in healthcare but not with patients.

Another 36 per cent intend to quit medical work altogether and 9 per cent want to move abroad. The remainder did not specify.

Academics said that so many GPs quitting could have ‘worrying’ implications for patients

Professor Kath Checkland, who led the study said: ‘The all-time high figure of 39 per cent of GPs who say they intend to quit within 5 years is particularly worrying in terms of the possible implications it might have on recruitment, retention and patient care.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee said: ‘While these figures are concerning, they are certainly not surprising. In the face of rising patient demand and increasing administrative burden, GP workload has reached a point where doctors feel they can no longer provide safe high-quality care.

‘As more GPs decide to leave the profession it will be patients who suffer, which is why we have been clear that practices must be able to set safe working limits.

‘This report provides yet more evidence to support the need for the government to urgently invest in general practice.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘GPs are a vital part of the NHS and we recognise the everyday pressures they face – that’s why we’re increasing investment by £2.4bn a year by 2021 and recruiting 5,000 new doctors into general practice.’ 


Official figures show that 41 per cent – around 10,000 doctors – are 50 or over and are expected to quit within the next five to ten years. 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised golden hellos of £20,000 for trainees who take up unpopular posts in October.

Fewer young doctors are choosing to specialise as GPs, and are opting for more ‘macho’ career paths as surgeons or specialists.  

It came as numbers of GPs are known to be dwindling in recent years, placing even more pressure on an over-stretched health service.

Many are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, as practices have threatened to close their waiting lists until action is taken.

This continued crisis has left many patients at risk, with staff unable to cope with the rising demand and slashed funding.

The shortage of doctors comes despite the NHS adopting a plan in April to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2021.

Mr Hunt’s pledge of £2.4 billion was said to be the answer to the staffing shortage, helping plug the growing number of vacancies.

This money was devised to lure GPs to move to the worst-hit areas of England, and to stop them from seeking another career. 

Thousands of new ‘doctors on the cheap’ are also being trained to prop up the cash-strapped NHS, it emerged in June.

An army of ‘physician associates’ will work in GP surgeries and hospitals to diagnose patients, recommend treatments and perform minor procedures. 

Scores of practices also believe they are working well beyond maximum capacity – feeling pressured to take on a higher workload and risk mistakes. 

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