A new report suggests that 40% of GPs are considering quitting the profession in order to retire within the next five years.
The review was conducted by the Royal College of GPs, and increased concerns that many doctors are dissatisfied with changes promised by the Department of Health.
Its Five Year Forward View initiative was intended to increase the number of family doctors by around 5,000, yet the NHS faces a decline in this number rather than the escalation promised.
Support staff were also promised by the Five Year Forward View, with general practice widely considered to be in a parlous state at present.
Increased patient demand is causing a strain on diminishing resources, while the long opening hours demanded by the government can also be particularly challenging, particularly for small surgeries and practices.
Indeed, a survey of GPs conducted in the completion of the report discovered that many GPs continue to struggle under the existing workload.
In this context, four-in-ten state they are unlikely to be working within the NHS system in just five years’ time.
Responding to the data, the Royal College of General Practitioners asserted that the findings indicate that the GP profession could reach breaking point unless urgent action is taken.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the RCGP, summed up the mood of the organisation.
“We know we’re only one year into a five-year plan, but GPs are desperate – they really, truly want to deliver the best possible care for patients, but the pressures they are under are unbearable.”
Stokes-Lampard believes that the situation with training in the NHS is only exacerbating the situation.
“It takes at least three years in speciality training for new doctors to enter the workforce as independent consultant GPs, so whilst it’s fantastic that more foundation doctors are choosing general practice this year, if more people are leaving the profession than entering it, we’re fighting a losing battle.”
And Dr Richard Vautrey, the British Medical Association’s GP committee chairman, also spoke out on what he perceives to be a workforce crisis.
“Despite the GP workforce shrinking again last year, the Government has continued to promise 5,000 extra GPs to patients. It is time to admit that this pledge is now unachievable. In order to create a stable GP workforce, the Government must expand the number of GPs entering the profession, and urgently address the underlying issues, particularly the unsafe workload pressure, behind the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice.”