General practitioners say they want to slash their hours to work as little as one-and-a-half days a week despite each costing the taxpayer £500,000 over 10 years of training.
General practitioners will not work full-time in the future, according to the new head of the national doctors’ body.
The King’s Fund recently released data showing one in 20 trainee GPs planned to work full-time within 10 years of qualifying and most planned to work between one-and-a-half and three days a week.
The research indicated the often heavy workload of a GP could not be carried out efficiently on a full-time basis, says the new chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Martin Marshall.
General practitioners will not work full-time in the future, according to the new head of the national doctors’ body (file image)
‘The idea that we can see 50, 60, 70 patients a day, five days a week, is crazy,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
Prof. Marshall pointed to the effects of significant workloads on medical professionals.
‘It is difficult to be as sharp on your 50th patient of the day, or [checking] your 200th blood test,’ he said.
‘Each one involves a clinical decision, it carries a risk, which is an innately stressful decision to make; it carries a degree of anxiety that you might make a mistake or misdiagnosis. Decisions can be life or death.’
What are the poll’s key findings?
- One in 20 trainee GPs plan to work full-time within 10 years of qualifying
- Most GPs plan to work between one-and-a-half and three days a week
- Women make up the majority, with 57 per cent in the profession
- 74.9 per cent of female trainees want to cut their hours to three days a week
- Female trainees were more open to cutting their hours down to one-and-a-half days a week
- 73.4 per cent of men wanted to work just three days a week
- Around half of the trainees polled hoped to work in other areas
- Primary reason for not wanting to be a full-time GP is the job’s intensity
Promises from the Conservatives and Labour of more GPs were worthless if doctors were choosing not to work full-time, Prof Marshall said, as he urged patients to consider whether they actually needed to visit a doctor.
The King’s Fund polled 840 trainee GPs, who work in general practice while working toward their full qualification, and asked about their plans for the future.
It follows a five-year period in which female GPs outnumbered their male counterparts.
Women often chose the role due to it being seen as more family oriented than working in a hospital.
They remain the majority in the profession, with 57 per cent of GPs being female right now.
Research revealed that 73.4 per cent of male trainees wanted to work in the profession just three days a week.
This compared with 74.9 per cent of female trainees, who were also more likely to want to curb their working hours further, to three half-day sessions.
And around half of those polled hoped to work in other areas, with the main reason for not wanting be a full-time GP being the ‘intensity of the working day’.
Family commitments also factor in, with long working hours and high volumes of administrative work and stress also cited as reasons.
Fewer than one third of GPs currently work full-time and last month the British Medical Association voted to scrap home visits to ease workloads.
Joyce Robins from Patient Concern called the situation ‘alarming’ and pointed out that while some people are seeking the luxury of working part-time, millions of patients are suffering.
The study’s lead author, Beccy Baird, said there are still questions as to whether the government will be able to tackle the crisis, accusing politicians of plucking numbers from the air as they pledge to expand the number of GPs. Conservatives claim they will boost the numbers by 6,000 and Labour is promising to increase the number of trainees by 1,500 a year, bringing the annual total to 5,000.
Conservatives claim they will boost the numbers by 6,000 and Labour is promising to increase the number of trainees by 1,500 a year, bringing the annual total to 5,000.
Ms Baird blamed the intensity of a GP’s working day as the primary reason for disillusionment.
She pointed out that for eight hours a day doctors will see a patient every 10 minutes and often have four hours of follow-up work afterwards.
NHS Digital figures show that over the last 12 months the number of patients waiting for a month or more to see a GP has risen by almost a fifth.
Last month, 5.8million patients waited for more than two weeks to see their GP after booking an appointment. This is a 13 per cent increase on the same month-long period last year.
The innate stress of seeing up to 70 patients a day has been cited as a potential factor driving doctors away from full-time work (file image)