Around two in every five GPs in the South West have said they intend to quit within the next five years, exposing the magnitude of the region’s impending healthcare crisis suggesting that the picture for the UK may be particularly challenging.
The University of Exeter’s recent largescale survey of GPs across the region also found that seven out of ten GPs intend 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.
More than 2,000 GPs responded to the survey, in research which involved collaboration with Bristol University. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and published today in BMJ Open. The data provides 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.
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Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research, has called for a move away from “sticking plaster solutions” towards robust, joined-up action to avert the crisis nationwide.
Professor 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.”