Issues that have been decades in the making cannot be resolved overnight, says College Chair

Responding to the latest research from the BMJ on the primary factors driving health professionals out of the NHS, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

“This latest survey highlights the point that resolving the workforce issues in UK healthcare is not about pay alone – we can't expect issues which have been decades in the making to be resolved overnight.

“Many GPs are experiencing huge workloads, resulting in burnout, low morale and a sense of moral distress. We know that when GPs do leave the profession earlier than planned, it is often due to the pressures of the role which have worsened in recent years. In many instances, when a practice loses a member of staff, it is really difficult to find an equivalent replacement, intensifying the pressures on those remaining. College surveys have shown that this cycle is likely to get worse, with many of our fully-qualified GPs considering leaving general practice in the next five years.

“GPs and their teams have been working exceptionally hard for their patients, delivering millions more appointments per year in the last few years, but now with 952 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs than in 2019. These pressures look set to continue for the foreseeable future as GPs deal with a growing workload, both in the growing number of patients and the complexity of their illnesses, over the coming months. This will continue to compound the workforce crisis we’re facing.

“The publication of the NHS Workforce Plan was a positive step but it will take time to see its promises take shape. A greater number of GPs, and other professionals across all branches of healthcare, will help to alleviate the immediate pressures, but we’ll also need to see long-term and sustained workforce planning and retention initiatives to keep the current GPs we have, to give our patients the care they need and deserve."

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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.