Nearly two-thirds of GPs-in-training plan to work part-time just one year after they qualify because being a GP is so stressful, research shows.
His intention to work two-and-a-half to three days a week threatens to exacerbate an already acute shortage of NHS GPs and make it even more difficult for patients to get an appointment.
The King’s Fund study found that 63% of trainee GPs in England plan to work no more than six four-hour “sessions” a week a year after qualifying. Family doctors say they don’t want to work more shifts than that because their jobs are so intense and the extra work generated by seeing patients, such as letters of reference, means a four-hour shift actually takes six or seven hours. .
Less than a third of apprentices (only 31%) said they planned to work seven, eight or more shifts, which is considered full-time work in general practice. That is 10% less than those who said the same in 2016 and is further confirmation of the pronounced and growing shift towards part-time work among family doctors.
“Doctors-in-training tell us that half-day clinical sessions rarely last four hours and, in fact, last more than six or seven hours once they have seen all their patients and completed their administrative work, such as checking blood results, make referrals, and follow up with another [medical] professionals
“So six half days can be much longer than 40 hours in practice,” said Dr. Beccy Baird, a senior fellow in health policy at the Center for Health Studies.
The huge increase in part-time work is laid bare in the results of the survey, which is the fifth time since 2016 that the King’s Fund has surveyed the future career plans of GP trainees. The trend is also accelerating because “doctors-in-training don’t want to be crushed by the weight of work and have seen too many in the profession put under unhealthy levels of pressure,” he added.
In the research, which was carried out among 318 future family doctors, “doctors in training were clear that the intensity of their work is the key reason why they want to work fewer sessions than in the past.
“They tell us this is important not only for their own work-life balance, but also because they can’t practice safely and effectively if they work so hard for very long days.”
When asked why apprentices who planned to work less than full time, 78% answered “intensity of working hours”. The next three most common explanations also involved the demands of their jobs. Two-thirds (67%) said “administrative workload”, 63% cited “work-related stress” and 61% specified the “long working hours” involved.
The think tank asked survey participants how many four-hour sessions they intended to work one, five and 10 years after qualifying. The results showed that many of the next-generation doctors planned to have less and less direct contact with patients over time.
The share of apprentices planning to work only three or four shifts after one year has increased since 2016 from 13% to 21%, after five years from 20% to 31%, and after 10 years from 22% to 26%.
Those who plan not to do clinical shifts after a decade have increased from 1% to 8%, and the number of trainees who intend to work five or six sessions a week after 10 years has been cut in half in just six years, from 52% in 2016. to only 26%.
Many trainees plan to start work in other areas of medical practice, such as sexual health, urgent care or end-of-life care, or in medical education during reduced hours as a GP.
Professor Martin Marshall, president of the Royal College of GPs, said GPs were working fewer and fewer shifts “to protect themselves from burnout and to protect their patients”, adding: “A burnt-out GP cannot safely practice “.
The King’s Fund also found that fewer trainees want to become partners, a head of a surgery, because of the heavy responsibility involved.
On Thursday, new health secretary Thérèse Coffey is due to set out a plan to tackle the growing crisis in the NHS before what bosses and leading doctors fear will be a very harsh winter in which entire areas of care could collapse. .
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The health and social care secretary is focused on caring for patients and has set out her four priorities of A, B, C, D: reduce ambulance delays, end Covid delays, improve care and increase the number of doctors and dentists.
“There are almost 1,500 more full-time equivalent doctors working in general practice now than there were in 2019, a record number of students started training last year and we’re spending £1.5bn to create 50m more appointments by 2024.”