latest health care news

05.02.18

GPs undervalued and worried about professional risk

GPs are leaving the profession because they feel undervalued and are concerned about professional risk, research has revealed.

The research, by the University of Exeter, aimed to identify the main factors influencing GPs’ decisions to leave direct patient care.

Researchers interviewed 41 GPs, identifying three main themes underpinning their thinking.

The key reasons that emerged were a sense of being undervalued within the healthcare system, concerns regarding professional risk in delivering care in an increasingly complex health environment, and the options that GPs felt were available to them.

The report follows earlier findings that around two out of every five GPs in the south west are planning to quit in the next five years.

Between 2012 and 2014 the number of unfilled GP posts quadrupled, with the number of GPs falling substantially.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that the research “hammers home” the need for more GPs.

She explained that over the last seven years, GP workloads have increased by at least 16%, and have become more complex, but that the share of overall NHS budget that general practice receives is less than a decade ago.

“The relentless pressure has simply become too much for many GPs. Our workforce is in a precarious state – and currently well-intentioned plans to increase GP numbers in the NHS are at risk of falling short of target,” she continued.

She said that NHS England’s pledge of 5,000 more GPs by 2020, made in its GP Forward View, needs to be delivered in full as a matter of urgency.

However, she added: “The latest workforce figures actually showed a concerning drop of more than 600 full-time equivalent family doctors between March-September last year.

“Ultimately, it’s our patients who suffer when we lose GPs, and this study not only highlights the need to recruit more doctors into general practice for the future, but to also take measures to retain existing and experienced doctors working in NHS general practice.”

Professor John Campbell, who led the study, said: “Policy makers need to take this onboard and address these issues to retain GPs and encourage medical students to take up a career in general practice.

“If we do not act now, many areas will face a severe shortfall in the number of GPs providing care for patients their area.

“Innovation is essential, but needs to be based on firm evidence.”

Top image: sturti

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