News

02.03.15

GPs retiring early and working abroad causing doctor shortage

The NHS is facing a shortage of around 1,000 GPs and more than half of the current workforce expects to retire before they turn 60, according to a new survey.

Figures released by the House of Commons library show that staffing levels have failed to keep pace with the increase in population. If the number of people per GP had remained at the 2009 level, there would be an extra 1,063 GPs, which Labour claims would bring huge relief to the system.

Meanwhile a survey of 1,004 GPs across the UK for the BBC’s Inside Out programme found that 56% said they expected to retire or leave before they are 60.

Jeremy Hunt described the figures as worrying, while Dr Krishna Kasaraneni of the British Medical Association said he was not surprised by them. He told the Guardian: “Politicians across the board need to acknowledge that general practice is not resourced correctly.”

The survey found that 25% of GPs said they would definitely leave before reaching 60, while 32% said thought they would probably not retire or leave general practice by that age. There were 6% of GPs who said they were definitely not planning to leave the profession before they turned 60.

Working hours, volume of consultations, standing within the profession and pay, along with their portrayal in the media and workload, were among the reasons given for leaving.

Hunt told BBC Inside-Out: “The centre of gravity in the NHS for 66 years has been big hospitals. We have to change that to make the centre of gravity general practice and out-of-hospital care.”

He added: “Hospitals have been struggling to meet increasing demand. That’s taken money away from services like GPs, mental health and district nurses. That’s wrong and we’re moving to correct that.”

The current shortage of GPs has forced the NHS to try and lure ex-pat doctors to move back home. Earlier this month NHS England's Shropshire & Staffordshire area team and Health Education Midlands placed an advert the Australian Doctor and the Medical Observer offering English doctors a fully funded scheme to move back to the UK.

It said: “This scheme will help you rediscover and enhance the skills you need to return, or start to practise in the UK. It's fully funded, so you will be supported whilst you complete the programme.”

It is thought that nearly 1,500 doctors move to Australia every year. At the same time under a quarter of trainees chose to go into general practice last year - with just over 5,000 applicants in total.

To combat this NHS England recently announced a £10m strategy that includes incentives for medical graduates to become GPs, and experienced GPs to delay retirement. The ideas included a new national scheme for returners and cash inducements if they agree to work in an area with a shortage of doctors.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We have an ageing GP workforce, with many family doctors approaching retirement age but not enough medical students choosing to enter general practice to replace them. 

“GPs across the UK are working harder than ever dealing with increasing patient demand with decreasing resources. We make more than 370 million patient consultations every year – 70 million more than we did five years ago – which equates to 90% of all NHS patient contacts, yet the share of the budget general practice receives has dropped to an all-time low of 8.3%.

“It is important that we do all we can to attract and retain GPs and show general practice for the exciting, diverse and challenging career that it is. We seriously need to tackle the three Rs: recruitment, retention and 'returners' – making it easier for trained GPs who have taken a career break to return to frontline patient care.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Gps Surveying   08/06/2015 at 20:59

nice about article very good and thank you http://www.amad-consulting.com/k2/gps-control-and-surveying

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