About two in five GPs in the south-west of England are planning to quit, exposing a potential doctors’ crisis in the NHS. A survey of more than 2,000 GPs in the region revealed the impending healthcare problems.
Figures published last month showed there had been a drop in the number of GPs working in the NHS despite the government aim of recruiting 5,000 more by 2020.
The survey, carried out by the University of Exeter, also found that seven in 10 GPs intended to change their working patterns in a way that would mean less contact with patients. This included leaving patient care, taking a career break or reducing their hours.
The researchers said the data provided a snapshot of low morale which, if echoed in other regions, could point to a deeper and more imminent crisis than previously anticipated in relation to the worsening shortage of GPs nationwide.
John Campbell, a professor who led the research, which is published in BMJ Open, has called for a move away from “sticking plaster solutions” towards robust, joined-up, action to avert the crisis nationwide.
Campbell, a practising GP, said: “We carried out this survey because of a nationally recognised crisis in the shortage of GPs across the country, and our findings show an even bleaker outlook than expected for GP cover, even in an area which is often considered desirable, and which has many rural communities,.
“If GPs have similar intentions to leave or reduce their hours in other regions, as many are reporting, the country needs to take robust action more swiftly and urgently than previously thought.”
The research team sent surveys to 3,370 GPs across the region and received responses from 2,248, with 54% reporting low morale.