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England’s GPs fed up – 33% may quit within five years, survey finds

Long hours, increased workloads and difficult patients are some of the reasons why a third of England’s GPs want to hang up their stethoscopes within five years, according to a survey.

The Guardian reports that the 2021 survey of 2,195 GPs found 33% planned to leave “direct patient care” by 2026. The figure represents a return to levels last seen in 2015, after plans to quit peaked in 2018, when two in five GPs wanted to stop seeing patients within five years.

The average level of job satisfaction, measured between a high of seven and a low of one, decreased by 0.2 points from 4.5 in 2019 to 4.3 in 2021. GPs said they were especially displeased with the number of hours they had to work and a lack of recognition for good performance.

Prof Kath Checkland, who led the 11th biannual GP Worklife Survey at the University of Manchester, said: “It is not really surprising that job satisfaction has dropped during the pandemic. That 16% of GPs under 50 are thinking about leaving their jobs is worrying, and suggests work is still needed to ensure that general practice is sustainable for the long term.”

The rates were even higher among GPs over 50, with nearly two-thirds (61%) planning to stop working with patients within five years. Nearly three-quarters (70%) said they planned to reduce their working hours in the coming years, as did 37.9% of GPs under 50.

However, more than half (51%) were satisfied with their job overall, and most were happy with their co-workers and working environment.

The survey is used by the Department of Health and Social Care to inform the doctors’ and dentists’ pay review body. The authors noted it took place in the middle of the pandemic, when GPs were grappling with “unprecedented” changes, including remote appointments, increased demand, critical media coverage and having to wear personal protective equipment.


Separately, a UK government research found that most GPs in England now work three days or less a week.

The study commissioned by the Department of Health shows a “substantial” fall in hours worked since the pandemic, with just half of family doctors in work by Friday afternoons.

In total, 58.4% cent of family doctors were found to be working six half-day sessions or less – the equivalent of three days. This compares with 50.1 per cent when the last survey was conducted in 2019, before the pandemic.

The research shows that GPs, with average earnings of just over £100,000, are most likely to work a full day at the start of the week.

While 63.5% are typically working on Monday afternoons, the figure falls steadily as the week goes on, reaching just 50 per cent by Friday lunchtime.

The data shows that the shift to remote consultations during the pandemic, and reduced access to face-to face appointments, saw GPs working hours fall.

The figures show an average of 38 and a half hours clocked up per week in 2021, compared with 40 hours a week in 2019, before the pandemic, and 42 hours in 2008. The poll of almost 2,300 family doctors working in England is the second in a row to show “substantial decreases” in hours worked, researchers said.


The Guardian article – Third of GPs in England want to quit within five years, survey finds (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


England’s ‘demoralised and broken’ GPs vote for industrial action


Average British GP sees a ‘worrying’ drop in hours worked but earnings increase


GPs worldwide harshly impacted psychologically by pandemic – Meta-analysis



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