Intense workload must be addressed to retain GPs in the workforce, says College

Responding to the 11th National GP Worklife Survey by the University of Manchester, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“General practice was under considerable strain before the pandemic, but the crisis has exacerbated this. These findings, which reflect those of surveys we have conducted of members, show a profession working under intense workload and workforce pressures, doing their best for patients in the most difficult of circumstances.

“It’s concerning to see any GP leaving the profession earlier than they planned, particularly in such high numbers, but it’s especially worrying to see so many family doctors planning to leave relatively early in their careers. This should be a wakeup call that we need to see robust plans implemented to retain highly-trained, experienced GPs in the workforce – and key to this will be tackling workload.

“GPs and their teams are currently working to their limits. Over the last six months, the numbers of appointments delivered in general practice every month has exceeded pre-pandemic levels - but numbers of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent GPs are falling. GPs want to be able to provide good, safe and appropriate care for patients – that’s why we become GPs - but due to workload and workforce pressures this is becoming increasingly difficult, it is taking its toll on GPs’ health, and they are making the decision to leave the profession earlier than planned as a result.

“More GPs are in training than ever before – but when more are leaving the profession than entering it, we are fighting a losing battle.

“General practice is the bedrock of the health service, with GPs and our teams making the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and in turn alleviating pressures across the health service, but we need enough people to be working the profession to safely do this. We urgently need the Government to make good on its promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the wider practice team by 2024, so that we can continue to deliver the care our patients need.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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.