According to alarming recent figures, more than half of all GPs are planning to hang up their stethoscopes before the age of 60. The reasons given by the family doctors for wanting to retire early are the conveyor-belt system of patient appointments, and underfunding in the NHS.
The BBC’s “Inside Out” programme surveyed 1,004 family doctors across the UK, and 56% of respondents said that they expected to leave the NHS or retire before they reach the age of 60.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that the survey results were “worrying”.
The survey figures showed that a quarter of all family doctors said that they would definitely leave their jobs before the age of 60, and 32% said that they thought it unlikely that they would leave general practice or retire before the age of 60. Only 6% of GPs surveyed said that they were definitely not planning to leave general practice before the age of 60.
The main reasons for wanting to leave the profession include the sheer number of appointments a GP has to get through, working hours, professional reputation, pay, workload and the way GPs are portrayed in the media.
27% of GPs gave the volume of appointments as the main reason why fewer medical students and newly qualified doctors were choosing to go into the field of general practice.
19% of GPs blamed the long working hours as their main reason for wanting to leave, and 20% said their professional standing was the reason.
Mr Hunt said that in order to improve the National Health Service, the “centre of gravity” needs to shift from large hospitals to away from hospital care and general practice. His plan is to completely overhaul the way in which older people are cared for over the next five years, and to try to encourage more doctors into general practice.
According to the BBC programme, it costs an estimated £250,000 to fund a student through medical school. Between 2010 and 2013 the number of vacancies for GPs has gone up four fold, and in the last five years the number of patients being seen annually has gone up by an estimated 60 million.
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