Numbers of GPs who want out within 5 years at all-time high, finds survey

The number of GPs who say they are likely to quit direct patient care within five years rose to 39% in 2017 from 35% in 2015, according to a new survey carried out by University of Manchester researchers.

The figure rose from 61% in 2015 to 62% in GPs over 50. Among this group, the majority said it was highly likely (47%) or considerably likely (15%).

In contrast, 13% of GPs under 50 said there was a considerable or high likelihood of leaving direct patient care within five years and 45% reported that there was no likelihood.

More than nine out of 10 GPs reported experiencing considerable or high pressure from ‘increasing workloads’.

Although there has been relatively little change between 2015 and 2017, average reported pressures remain at a high level relative to previous surveys.

Particularly high average levels of pressure were reported in ‘having insufficient time to do the job justice’, ‘increasing workloads’, ‘paperwork’ and ‘increased demand from patients’.

The National GP Worklife Survey is a national survey of GPs in England, which has been carried out nine times since 1999.

It analyses two samples in 2017: 996 GPs responded to a random sample of 4000 people and 1,199 responded (out of 22280) after being followed up after responding to the 2015 survey.

Also in the survey, overall job satisfaction has increased slightly since the previous survey in 2015, though levels of satisfaction in 2015 were the lowest since 2001.

Satisfaction with aspects of the job, such as remuneration, hours of work and amount of responsibility given, although slightly higher than in 2015, remain lower than in the surveys undertaken before the introduction of the new GP contract in 2004.

The respondents reported working an average of 41.8 hours per week. Stated working hours per week have remained largely stable since 2008. 36% said they worked fewer than 40 hours per week, 28% between 40-49 hours, 16% reported working between 50-59 hours and 20% reported working 60+ hours per week.

The percentage of respondents earning £110,000 per year or more fallen from 34.6% in 2010 to 31% in 2015 and rose to 32.5% in 2017; their median hours worked per week increased between 2010 and 2017.

Professor Kath Checkland, who led the study said: “Our survey shows there has been little change in the satisfaction and stressor results between 2015 and 2017 survey, though 2015 were already at very high levels.

“Although the declines in satisfaction seen between previous years has stopped, low satisfaction and high pressures have been sustained.

“The all-time high figure of 39% 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.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Dr Sharon Spooner; Professor Katherine Checkland‎ and Professor  Matthew Sutton are available for comment.

Ninth National GP Worklife Survey, 2017, is carried out by the Manchester Centre for Health Economics at The University of Manchester on behalf of the Policy Research Unit in Commissioning and the Healthcare System (PRUComm). PRUComm is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Research Programme.

This report is independent research commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research, the Department of Health and Social Care or its arm’s length bodies, and other Government Departments

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An electronic version of the report is available here.

Download the Ninth National GP Worklife Survey [pdf]>>

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