OBJECTIVE: Given recent concerns regarding general practitioner (GP) workforce capacity, we aimed to describe GPs' career intentions, especially those which might impact on GP workforce availability over the next 5 years.
DESIGN: Census survey, conducted between April and June 2016 using postal and online responses , of all GPs on the National Health Service performers list and eligible to practise in primary care. Two reminders were used as necessary.
SETTING: South West England (population 3.5 million), a region with low overall socioeconomic deprivation.
PARTICIPANTS: Eligible GPs were 2248 out of 3370 (67 % response rate).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Reported likelihood of permanently leaving or reducing hours spent in direct patient care or of taking a career break within the next 5 years and present morale weighted for non-response.
RESULTS: Responders included 217 7 GPs engaged in patient care. Of these, 863 (37% weighted, 95% CI 35 % to 39 %) reported a high likelihood of quitting direct patient care within the next 5 years. Overall, 1535 (70% weighted, 95% CI 68 % to 72 %) respondents reported a career intention that would negatively impact GP workforce capacity over the next 5 years, through permanently leaving or reducing hours spent in direct patient care, or through taking a career break. GP age was an important predictor of career intentions; sharp increases in the proportion of GPs intending to quit patient care were evident from 52 years. Only 305 (14% weighted, 95% CI 13 % to 16 %) reported high morale, while 1195 ( 54 % weighted, 95% CI 52 % to 56 %) reported low morale. Low morale was particularly common among GP partners. Current morale strongly predicted GPs' career intentions; those with very low morale were particularly likely to report intentions to quit patient care or to take a career break.
CONCLUSIONS: A substantial majority of GPs in South West England report low morale. Many are considering career intentions which, if implemented, would adversely impact GP workforce capacity within a short time period.
STUDY REGISTRATION: NIHR HS&DR - 14/196/02, UKCRN ID 20700.
- Journal Article