Credit: This story was first seen on Sky News
Nearly 40% of GPs in southwest England say they are highly likely to quit the profession because of low morale and overwhelming workloads, a survey published in BMJ Open suggests.
The poll of more than 2,200 general practitioners found that 70% intend on reducing their contact with patients in some way over the next five years – through permanently leaving, taking a career break, or by cutting their hours, Sky News reports.
More than half of those polled by the University of Exeter reported low morale – and the professor behind the research has warned that similar figures across other British regions would necessitate robust action “swiftly and urgently” to prevent a staffing crisis.
Professor John Campbell has urged the government to move away from “sticking plaster solutions” and to tackle the workload pressures that GPs face – with younger doctors reluctant to take on a practice because of the financial risks and responsibilities involved.
He said the number of GPs who said they were thinking of quitting was bleaker than expected – not least because the South West is often considered a “desirable” place to work.
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“If the GPs we surveyed fulfil their intentions to leave or cut back their patient contact, and no action is taken to address the issue, the southwest of England will experience a severe shortfall of GPs in the next five years,” Professor Campbell warned.
He also claimed the looming shortage was exacerbated by how the country’s current workforce of GPs is aging – as 30% of them are over 50 years old.
According to Professor Campbell, GPs and their staff are responsible for 90% of patient contacts with the health service, yet receive 7p in every £1 of NHS spending.
Doctors in the region believe the situation is likely to get worse as demand increases because of fewer beds in community hospitals.