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09-05-2011 | Article

GPs’ plans to quit mark unease over reforms

In reality, we GPs have less reason to be moaning about our job prospects than the rest of the working population. We are privileged to be in a satisfying, secure and well paid job with a decent pension and continuity of employment. Indeed, in the current economic and job market, we should have little if anything to complain about. But, despite this, morale seems to be low among many of us, something that was brought home to me in a recent item in the univadis GP News service. According to the article (click here), a poll of 576 GPs published in Pulse suggested that just over one in three GPs plans to leave the profession in the next 5 years. Low morale seemed to be a significant factor.

Speaking to GPs in general, there is no doubt that morale is indeed low and I suspect that the ever-changing landscape within the NHS has something to do with this. While we live an environment of constant change, especially in this modern world, too much change can be counter-productive - especially when there is limited evidence that this change is for the good.

The Department of Health response to the survey quoted in the article caught my eye. It read: "We do not recognise these statistics. Some 220 groups of GP practices have been eager to come forward to plan an increasing role in commissioning healthcare." I have to say that in my experience this response does not take into account the true depth of feeling on the front line.

There is, without doubt, a crisis of confidence in the profession and not because of concerns about pay and security (although there is unhappiness about pensions) but rather because of difficult working conditions and incessant changes within the NHS. If we are going to lose a number of experienced doctors then we should look at this dispassionately, to understand what the real reason is.

We live in difficult times and this will go on, possibly for some years, until the economy improves. We will have to battle through the tough times until the good times come, but by then some of us will have had enough and quit - and I feel a fair bit of sympathy for that position.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief

By Dr Harry Brown