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gpstressOctober 7 2015

Satisfaction levels regarding length of hours worked and remuneration have fallen the most over the past three years in terms of overall GP job satisfaction. Only 10% of respondents thought that recent changes to their job had led to better patient care.

According to the Eighth National GP Worklife Summary which sought views from over 2,600 GPs, “the level of overall job satisfaction reported by GPs in 2015 was lower than in all surveys undertaken since 2001.” Using a seven-point scale, with 7 being extremely satisfied, and 1 being extremely dissatisfied, the average satisfaction had decreased from 4.5 in 2012, to 4.1 points in 2015.

Respondents reported working 41.5 hours per week on average in 2015, down 0.3 hours compared to 2012. In addition, “reported levels of stress increased between 2012 and 2015 on all 14 stressors. The increases were generally in the range 0.2 to 0.5 points on a five-point scale,” says the report. “Reported levels of stress are now at their highest since the beginning of the National GP Worklife Survey series in 1998.”

The survey was carried out by the Manchester Centre for Health Economics in the Institute of Population Health, on behalf of the Policy Research Unit in Commissioning and the Health Care System. It is the latest report in a survey that has been conducted every couple of years.

This latest survey continues “the trends observed in recent waves of the National GP Worklife Survey. The 2015 respondents reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction amongst GPs since before the introduction of their new contract in 2004, the highest levels of stress since the start of the survey series, and an increase since three years ago in the proportion of GPs intending to quit direct patient care within the next five years,” it concludes.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP Committee deputy chair, commented: “This important survey provides yet more evidence to back-up the BMAs repeated warnings that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country.

“It is no surprise that stress levels have reached their highest level for almost 20 years, as GP services are under unprecedented workload pressure against a background of mounting bureaucracy and falling resources.

“As the survey highlights, this has damaged GP morale and caused an increasing number of GPs to choose to leave the profession in the next five years – particularly worrying at a time when general practice faces a serious shortfall in the number of doctors choosing to train as GPs.”

Dr Vautry acknowledged that patients are becoming frustrated with making appointments and treatment delays saying that the problem could get worse “with too few GPs for the number of patients walking through our surgery doors” if the current situation is not addressed.

“We need the government to accept the severity of this problem and address the huge pressures facing GP practices, guarantee that GPs are given the resources to be able to deliver the services that patients deserve and need, and work to ensure that general practice once again becomes an attractive career choice for the next generation of doctors,” he said.

Links:

University of Manchester announcement

PRUComm ‘Eighth National GP Worklife Survey’

BMA comment

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