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DATA LOWDOWN THIS MONTH


Why are so many GPs under 50 leaving the profession?


Researchers find overwork and burnout are major factors in the departure of younger GPs, reports Sofia Lind


GPs under the age of 50 are abandoning UK general practice as they feel ‘unsupported and vulnerable to burnout’, a study commissioned by NHS England has concluded. The study, published in the British


Journal of General Practice last month, found changes to the profession played a bigger part in GPs’ decision to leave than personal circumstances. The researchers from the University of Bath, University of Bristol and Staffordshire University surveyed and interviewed 143 GPs under 50 who had left the profession, concluding that ‘to improve retention of young GPs, the pace of administrative change needs to be minimised and the time spent by GPs on work that is not face-to-face patient care reduced’.


Many GPs leaving the profession between 2009 and 2014 were aged under 50…


It comes as Pulse’s long-running Battling Burnout campaign has highlighted soaring rates of burnout within the profession. The campaign contributed to NHS England’s decision last year to announce a new national support service for all hard-pressed GPs, which is expected to launch from April. Dr Zoe Norris, media lead of pressure group GP Survival, said: ‘It is extremely useful to have confirmation in a peer-reviewed, well-recognised journal, of what grassroots GPs have been saying all along – that GPs want to get on with their jobs. We want to see patients.’ An NHS England spokesperson said it


Dr Zoe Norris: The study ‘confirms what grassroots GPs have been saying’


A high proportion of under-50s leaving the profession are now practising abroad…


32% Still working as GPs but outside the EU 45.5% Under 50 years


15% 13% 9% 8%


30.5% 50-59 years


Doing non-clinical medical work Doing other clinical work Carers Full-time parents


6% Retired voluntarily 8%


Non-medical careers


57% Concerns about


media attacks on the profession


5% Still working as GPs inside the EU 4% Retired on medical grounds


24% 60+ years


Many cited organisational reasons for leaving the profession early…


56% 24 February 2016 Pulse


Said the goalposts were moved too often


52% 54% 50% 49% 43% 42%


63% Factors relating


to patients and media


38%


was ‘working hard across the health service to help GPs through the current pressures as well as investing £10 million in ways to further boost the workforce’.


...while the perception of the profession was cited as a factor for leaving for many


18% Fear of complaints


25% Fear of litigation


But by far the biggest factors were workload pressures and unhappiness with the job in general


84% 79%


Learn more about Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign pulsetoday.co.uk/ battling-burnout


Disliked ‘target-driven’ approach to primary care


Sources • Health and Social Care Information Centre, General and personal medical services, England, 30 September 2015. • Doran N et al. Lost to the NHS: a mixed methods study of why GPs leave practice early in England. BJGP January 2016. The study was jointly funded by Health Education England and NHS England. The figures were based on an online survey that interviewed 143 GPs aged 50 or under who left the England medical performers list between 2009 and 2014.


Aspects relating to pressure of work Unhappiness with day-to-day life as a GP Feeling overworked


Non-clinical workload too high


Wish to improve work-life balance Work too stressful Lack of enjoyment of work Burnout


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