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General practice faces huge workforce crisis

‘We are bleeding GPs at both ends of their careers’

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 26 June 2014

General practice is facing “the biggest workforce crisis in a generation”. 

The warning comes from Ayrshire GP, Dr Hal Maxwell, during a debate at the British Medical Association’s Annual Conference, in which a motion was passed calling for urgent action to address “a developing crisis in general practice”.

The motion, which was passed in full, read as follows: 

This meeting calls on UK general practice to take urgent action to address a developing crisis in general practice resulting from:

  • An unmanageable increase in workload
  • Falling recruitment and retention
  • Recurrently inadequate financial resource
  • Worsening stress and morale

Speaking during the debate, Dr Maxwell, a GP from Ballantrae, an area he described as a “rural idyll”, warned that GPs were being bled “at both ends of their careers”. 

He described the growing recruitment problem in his own area, despite incomes being “commensurate with the Scottish average” and the work being “varied and interesting”. 

“For the first time in my working life we have 11 out of 55 practices in our county with a vacancy; that is 20% of our practices with a vacancy. This is a problem across the UK but reflects the biggest workforce crisis in a generation.”

He added: “Trainee vacancies remain unfilled. GP partnerships are becoming less attractive as workload increases and income falls. GPs are increasingly considering careers overseas and do not want to come back. As workload increases, the pressures and intensity of the job means that many GPs are choosing to reduce their hours, just to survive whilst others choose to retire early.

“We are bleeding GPs at both ends of their careers. We need more GPs.”

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