HALF of GPs plan on retiring by the age of 60

Nearly half of GPs plan to retire by the age of 60, a shock poll suggests. Unions said the number was ‘concerning but not altogether unsurprising‘ due to their ‘intense’ daily workload.

A survey of more than 800 GPs in the UK for doctors’ magazine Pulse found 47 per cent intend to leave the profession by the age of 60.

One in 10 family doctors, who earn an average of £100,000 per year, plan on retiring in their fifties and two per cent expect to quit before their 50th birthday.

Only 14 per cent of GPs said they planned to continue practicing into their late sixties, past the state pension age.

The most commonly cited reason for wanting to leave was burnout and workload, although issues about pensions also came up.

One GP said the sooner they leave general practice ‘the better’ and they ‘wouldn’t recommend’ the career path to anyone.

It comes amid a huge fallout over the lack of access to family doctors, with some areas of the country having just one GP for every 2,500 patients.

A survey of more than 800 GPs for Pulse magazine found around 47 per cent intend to retire when they hit that age

England’s GP postcode lottery was laid bare today as official data showed some areas have half as many doctors per patient as others. Nuffield Trust analysis shows there are 39.5 GPs caring for every 100,000 people in Portsmouth. People in Thurrock have 40.3 family doctors for every 100,000 people in the area and in Hull there are 41.9 per 100,000

NHS data shows there have been nearly 4.5milion booked GP appointments where patients did not turn up since the start of the year, about 40,000 per day

Official figures show just 63 per cent of consultations were carried out in-person in England in April. At the current rate, it would take until September 2023 to reach the more than 80 per cent of appointments being made in person seen before the pandemic

Union demands NHS nurses get an inflation-busting salary hike worth up to £4,000 to avoid mass exodus

Nurses need an inflation-busting pay rise if the NHS is to ‘stand a chance’ of fixing its staffing problems, the country’s biggest nursing union demanded today.

The number of nurses leaving the profession increased for the first time in recent years in 2021/22, when more than 25,000 quit.

Nurses, paramedics and GPs in England were awarded a three per cent pay rise in 2021 for their efforts during the Covid pandemic and there are talks of a similar rise this year.

But Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said this would effectively be a ‘pay cut’ for nurses due to rising inflation.

She told the union’s annual conference today: ‘If they want to stand a chance of improving staffing levels and rewarding nursing skill, the award needs to not just match inflation but go five per cent above it.’

This would equate to roughly a 12.8 per cent pay rise — the equivalent of £4,000 for the average nurse.

Governments across the UK are due to announce the next round of NHS pay awards in the coming days.

The latest poll was based on the answers of 823 GPs across the UK.

A similar survey in 2020 found that 40 per cent of family doctors were planning earlier retirement, meaning the crisis is getting worse.

NHS England has lost the equivalent of 2,000 full-time GPs since 2015 and there are now an average of 2,200 patients per family doctor.

Medics cited workload pressures as a reason for leaving the profession.

Figure show that on average 2,200 patients are fighting for access to the same doctor in England.

In areas with the poorest coverage, like Portsmouth, Brighton, Hull and Thurrock, there were around just 40 GPs per 100,000 patients, or one for every 2,500.

But doctors have also been in dispute with the Government for several years over tax rules relating to GP pensions.

Pulse said its survey suggests there is a greater appetite for retiring early than in its previous polls.

Warrington GP partner Dr Martin Whitenburgh, who aims to retire at 50 to 55, told Pulse: ‘The sooner I leave this mess the better. I don’t recognise the job anymore and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone pursuing a career in general practice.’

Another GP, who wished to remain anonymous, told Pulse they also aim to retire between 50 and 55 as they ‘cannot sustain the workload’.

They added: ‘Two of my close friends, both excellent GPs, have left the NHS due to the workload and stress. One has gone to Bupa and the other to an insurance provider.

‘It’s all about politics, not funding primary care properly – encouraging the public to think private is the way forward.

‘Conscientious doctors are leaving because they can’t/won’t do a bad job for the patients but the current system doesn’t allow them to do their jobs properly.

‘Ten-minute GP appointments are no longer fit for purpose.’

Salford had the lowest proportion of patients seen in-person with less than half (46 per cent) of appointments made face-to-face. It was followed by Bury (51 per cent), Somerset (53 per cent) and Frimley (53 per cent). Some 79 per cent of appointments in Kirklees were done in person

The NHS data also showed just under half of all GP appointments last month were carried out by fully-qualified doctors, with patients seen by other staff including nurses at the rest of appointments

The GP Worklife survey found more than half of family doctors worked for six sessions a week or less every week in 2021, with each session being four hours and 10 minutes. Nearly a fifth of the workforce saw patients for four sessions or less, while 12.4 per cent worked for five sessions and 27.9 per cent worked for six

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘The number of highly trained, experienced GPs planning to leave the profession early is concerning but not altogether unsurprising given the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and our teams are working under on a daily basis.

‘Good work is ongoing to encourage junior doctors to choose general practice, and these efforts have been successful.

‘But if more GPs are leaving the profession than entering it, we are fighting a losing battle.

‘We need to see just as much effort going into making general practice an attractive and sustainable career for existing GPs, so they can continue delivering frontline patient care in the NHS and mentoring the next generation of family doctors.

‘The Government has promised 6,000 more GPs by 2024 but are not on track to deliver this, but they cannot give up on it.’

Dr Samira Anane, head of workforce policy at the BMA GP committee said: ‘BMA analysis has shown that we now have the equivalent of 1,622 fewer fully qualified full-time GPs than we did in 2015, despite the average number of patients each GP is responsible for having increased by around 300 – or 16 per cent – since then.

‘On top of unprecedented workload leading to burnout, complex and punitive pension taxation rules that can leave senior doctors facing eye-watering and unexpected charges if they stay in work longer mean family doctors are not only exhausted and disenchanted, but also absurdly financially punished for continuing to look after their patients.

‘As a result, they are reluctantly voting with their feet by reducing hours or deciding to retire early, and the impact on patients cannot be underestimated.’

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