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New research has revealed that the average GP is now working less than three-an-a-half days a week, with only one in 20 trainee doctors intending to do the job full-time.
With GPs claiming the job has become so intense that full-time working was increasingly ‘untenable’, the survey of more than 2,000 family doctors shows that GPs are now carrying out 6.7 half-day sessions a week on average.
Research from The King’s Fund has found that the vast majority of trainee GPs have no intention of ever working full-time as a family doctor, with only 22 per cent of the 700 questioned planning to be working full time as a GP within one year of finishing their training.
Discussing long-term career plans, just one in 20 trainees intended to be working full-time as a GP within ten years of finishing training. Of slight concern, the majority of respondents expected to take on other jobs, either in addition to work as a family doctor, or instead of it.
Beccy Baird, senior fellow from the King’s Fund, said: “The biggest reason for both male and female GPs not wanting to work full time as a GP was the pressures of the working day. We need to do more to address the working lives of GPs, stress is going up, they are retiring increasingly early. This isn’t about lazy GPs who earn so much that they can afford to work part-time.”
Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "It's not a surprise to see that more GP trainees are planning to either work part-time, or opt for portfolio careers – meaning that they undertake work in other areas of healthcare, as well as clinical work. The intense resource and workforce pressures facing general practice at the moment, mean that full-time working as a GP is often regarded as untenable.
"It would be misguided and unhelpful for people to criticise the decision of GP trainees not to work full time, and suggest that this is contributing to workforce pressures – it is actually the flexibility that a career in general practice offers that makes it a sustainable career choice. Being a GP can be the best job in the world but only if general practice is properly resourced and we're given the tools to make over a million patient consultations across the country safely and effectively.
"We urgently need to see existing promises of investment for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team delivered in full – but the RCGP is also calling for an additional £2.5 billion a year, as part of the upcoming long-term plan for the NHS, to ensure that GPs and their teams are given the support and resources they need to deliver high-quality patient care both now and in the future."