Pandemic pressures taking their toll on GP future career plans, says RCGP

Responding to research on GPs’ career intentions published in the BMJ, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“These figures reflect what we are hearing from our members in general practice. The intense workload and workforce pressures that GPs and our teams have been working under, which far pre-date COVID-19 but have been exacerbated by the pandemic, are taking their toll.

“When fully-trained, often high-experienced GPs are deciding to leave the profession earlier than they planned to due to workload pressure, it is a huge loss to the profession and patient care. A recent survey of RCGP members found that 8% of respondents plan to leave in the next year, 15% in the next two, and 34% in the next five years - around half of these are due to retirement, but a quarter cite stress and burnout as the reason for leaving. This could equate to patients losing 3,000 of their family doctors by 2022, 6,000 by 2023, and 14,000 by 2026.

“A lot of work has gone into increasing recruitment to general practice over the last few years, with very good results. We need to see similar initiatives implemented to keep existing GPs in the profession for longer - and we need to keep them safe and healthy. One reason GPs often cite for leaving is the pressures of ‘undoable’ workload, leading to burnout - we need to make a career in general practice sustainable by tackling this.

“General practice is the foundation of the NHS. We keep the health service safe and sustainable, and deliver care to patients where they want it, in their community, close to their homes. Our service needs to be safeguarded so that we can continue delivering the care our patients need now and in the future.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
Out of hours: 020 3188 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.