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GP trainees shun traditional employment

Survey shows just 15% interested in a conventional partnership work

Mark Gould

Friday, 15 August 2014

A national survey of GP trainees reveals that just 15% are looking for a conventional partnership due to the uncertain climate in General Practice. They dislike commitment and said they are looking for more flexibility in their working lives. Some 77% of respondents said that locum or salaried work would be their initial preference.

The national survey conducted by Wessex LMCs was sent to 9,000 GPs in training across Britain. There were over 2,000 responses in total with over 700 trainees responding in the cohort qualifying this summer as GPs.

Some 12% reported their intention to leave the country within the next 12 months and 25% of those questioned intended to take a career break out of UK General Practice at some point in their career for more than two years.

Eighty-three per cent of comments made about their impression of General Practice were negative. The top themes cited as factors that would attract them to a post in a practice were: a good, cohesive team, friendliness, pay, work-life balance and a supportive atmosphere.

Of 200 comments on their one year plans, just under 50% cited children or family commitments as influencing their choice of working.

Asked about their intentions in five years’ time, 47% would be considering partnership as their preferred option and 40% intend to be combining General Practice with a special interest such as education or a clinical specialist interest. Despite the ambitions for five years’ time seeing more trainees hoping for partnership, there are still less than 50% aspiring to this, with many citing political uncertainty and long working hours at high intensity as unfriendly to family life. Burn out or exhaustion was already mentioned in 5% of comments.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs said: “These results confirm what we are seeing locally. It is sad to see younger doctors becoming disillusioned before they have really commenced on their career - disillusioned doctors leaving General Practice means ultimately less appointments for patients and increasingly overstretched services. General Practice is a fantastic career – we need to work hard to re-establish General Practice as an appealing and positive career choice.”

The majority of GPs are instead focussing on developing a career blending clinical care with another aspect of being a General Practitioner – a so called ‘portfolio career’. Many commented that they wished to include a hospital specialty or education.

When all trainees were asked what might reverse the trend in recruitment there were over 1,400 suggestions. The top themes were:

  • stopping the constant negative media and government attention
  • secondary care colleagues being more understanding and respectful
  • more funding for General Practice and better working conditions
  • more emphasis on General Practice and its advantages in medical school
  • more foundation placements in General Practice

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