The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued its response to a BBC survey which found that more than half of GPs expect to leave the profession before they reach the age of 60.
The survey, which features the views of 1004 UK GPs, found that working hours, pay concerns, and a negative portrayal by the media are the main reasons why 56 percent of GPs say they expect to retire early.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, GP and BMA education, training and workforce committee chair, said: “The BMA has been warning for some time that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country. GP services are under unprecedented workload pressure, with practices seeing record numbers of patients – 40 million more annually than in 2008 – against a background of mounting bureaucracy and falling resources.
“This has led to a significant drop in GP morale, and, as the BBC’s survey shows, has led to a worrying number of senior GPs choosing to retire early or work abroad, at the same time that general practice faces a serious shortfall in the number of doctors choosing to train as GPs.
“In my own practice, two established GPs and one newly qualified GP have moved to Canada and Australia since last summer due to the unsustainable daily pressure facing GPs.
“If this situation becomes normality it will result in an accelerating decline in the overall number of GPs, and will present a threat to patient care as there will be too few GPs for the number of patients walking through the surgery doors.
“Patients are already beginning to see the result of the increasing pressure on general practice in a decline in the number of available appointments, and losing highly experienced GPs will only exacerbate this crisis.
“We need politicians and policymakers to wake up to the severity of this problem. We need to address the huge pressures facing GP practices, guarantee that GPs are given the resources to be able to deliver the services that patients deserve and need, and work to ensure that general practice once again becomes an attractive career choice for the next generation of doctors.”
The survey was carried out for the BBC’s Inside Out programme which is due to be broadcast on Monday 2 March.