Why doctors do not want to become GPs

Andrew McHugh with Liz Dawson
Andrew McHugh with Liz Dawson

A team of Banbury GPs and medical managers has conducted a pioneering national study to see if doctors are coping with demands being placed on them by new government health policy.

Andrew McHugh, practice manager at Horsefair Surgery in Banbury, is about to publish the study in the British Medical Journal and says the results gleaned from 2,700 doctors show General Practice is in crisis.

After an exclusive interview with Mr McHugh, the Banbury Guardian can reveal the headline results of the study which suggest overworked doctors are taking on ever increasing workloads and far more are leaving the profession than are choosing to enter it.

The results show 73 per cent of doctors who responded said one or more colleagues in their surgeries was suffering from burnout.

A total of 58 per cent of GPs indicated they will retire or take a career break in the next five years and 11 per cent of GPs indicated they intend to emigrate within the next five years.

A total of 98 per cent of practices indicated they are experiencing an ‘ever increasing’ and ‘unsustainable’ workload.

Mr McHugh initiated the survey with Horsefair GP Liz Dawson and Bicester GPs Dr George MonCrieff and Dr Brendan McDonald after Horsefair Surgery was left with just one viable applicant when it attempted to recruit a new GP last year.

He said: “GPs are leaving more quickly than they are being replaced and those left behind are having to work harder and harder. The results indicate a crisis in General Practice in that it appears young doctors don’t want to become GPs.

“This could leave a demographic hole in General Practice that could last a generation.”

Mr McHugh said the latest government policy is to take more and more care away from hospitals and place it in Primary Care, as outlined in a paper called Transforming Primary Care, but he fears medical centres will not be able to cope with the increased demand.

Mr McHugh is now calling for the Government to set up an independent commission to investigate the state of Primary Health Care and Community Nursing to see what can be done to make General Practice attractive to young doctors.