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NEWS: Era of full-time GP nearing end

by in GP Practice Management, News

The days of GPs working five days a week in their practices will soon be over, according to the findings of a major analysis published today, raising questions about the prospects of increasing GP numbers.

The vast majority of GP trainees intend to be part-timers, with many planning to develop other interests in medicine outside of general practice, according to the survey undertaken by the King’s Fund.

Just 5% see themselves being full-time GPs within a decade of qualifying – and just 27% will even start as full-timers following completion of training, the survey found. Fewer than half are interested in GP partnership – at just 41%.

The think-tank undertook the same survey three years ago and at the time found that 10% of trainees intended to stay as part-timers. The survey found that trainees are deterred by the intensity of general practice as well as wanting flexibility for their home lives. Some 50% said they wanted to do other work such as emergency medicine or palliative care – or they wanted to become academics.

Researcher Dr Abigail Heller said: “As a current GP trainee splitting time between clinical work and a post at The King’s Fund, I find this work-life variation brings an enjoyable balance to the working week, helping me to reduce stress and broaden my skills and knowledge and I would like to continue this pattern throughout my career. Similarly, many of the respondents also hope to pursue other clinical or non-clinical interests alongside general practice, with interests ranging from expedition medicine to medico-legal work.”

Beccy Baird, from the Fund, said: “Given it is likely that many new GPs will spend only part of their working week in general practice, promises of 5,000 or 6,000 more full time equivalent GPs will mean finding many more individual GPs, potentially as much as half as many again.

“There appears to be a political arms race for who can set the highest target for recruiting new GPs, but unless the next government addresses the unsustainable workloads that cause GPs to leave or reduce their hours, those aims may fast become broken promises.”

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