A poll taken by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that 34% of GPs intend to stop working by 2020 with many others considering going part-time, moving abroad or leaving medicine altogether. 

The survey, which was completed by more than 15,000 UK GPs, identifies various factors that have a negative impact on their commitment to being a GP. More than seven out of ten (71%) of the GPs polled cited excessive workload and 43% say that they have insufficient time with their patients. The Guardian reports that one in six (16%) said their stress level was “significant and unmanageable.”

In addition to the 34% of GPs intending to retire in the next five years, the research found that 17% are considering working part-time and 9% of GPs, including 19% of trainees, are thinking about moving abroad. 

BMA GP leader Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GPs committee, told The Guardian: “It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity.” 

Dr Nagpaul advised that “many GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients, especially the increasing numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care.” 

The chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Maureen Baker, has warned that the findings impose a risk to patients in the future. She suggests that “intense and increasing pressures” are forcing our highly trained GPs to leave the profession, without enough students to replace them. 

In light of these findings, many would hope that appropriate measures would be put into place as a matter of urgency to ensure the recruitment of extra GPs and to encourage trainees to stay and work here.  

An NHS spokesman told the BBC that NHS England has recently developed a workforce action plan. He said: “NHS England has invested £10m to kick-start the initiatives, which include incentives to recruit newly trained doctors into general practice, schemes to retain GPs thinking of leaving the profession, and a new induction and returner scheme to encourage more GPs to return to work after a period of absence working abroad or a career break." 

These recent figures raise concerns about the pressure there may be on GPs in the future and lack of resources which, in turn, could lead to negligent delays in treating patients correctly. 

The Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team deals with a number of claims on behalf of patients against GPs who have failed to correctly investigate or diagnose their symptoms. We understand the importance of GPs and hope that the NHS’s incentives will help increase the numbers of GPs who are willing to continue working.