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GP retention in the UK: a worsening crisis. Findings from a cross-sectional survey
  1. Katherine Owen,
  2. Thomas Hopkins,
  3. Thomas Shortland,
  4. Jeremy Dale
  1. Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jeremy Dale; jeremy.dale{at}


Objective To investigate how recent national policy-led workforce interventions are affecting intentions to remain working as a general practitioner (GP).

Design Online questionnaire survey with qualitative and quantitative questions.

Setting and participants All GPs (1697) in Wessex region, an area in England for which previous GP career intention data from 2014 is available.

Results 929 (54.7%) participated. 59.4% reported that morale had reduced over the past two years, and 48.5% said they had brought forward their plans to leave general practice. Intention to leave/retire in the next 2 years increased from 13% in the 2014 survey to 18% in October/November 2017 (p=0.02), while intention to continue working for at least the next 5 years dropped from 63.9% to 48.5% (p<0.0001). Age, length of service and lower job satisfaction were associated with intention to leave. Work intensity and amount were the most common reasons given for intention to leave sooner than previously planned; 51.0% participants reported working more hours than 2 years previously, predominantly due to increased workload.

GPs suggested increased funding, more GPs, better education of the public and expanding non-clinical and support staff as interventions to improve GP retention.

National initiatives that aligned with these priorities, such as funding to expand practice nursing were viewed positively, but low numbers of GPs had seen evidence of their roll-out. Conversely, national initiatives that did not align, such as video consulting, were viewed negatively.

Conclusion While recent initiatives may be having an impact on targeted areas, most GPs are experiencing little effect. This may be contributing to further lowering of morale and bringing forward intentions to leave. More urgent action appears to be needed to stem the growing workforce crisis.

  • general practice
  • workforce
  • retirement
  • retention

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  • Contributors KO and JD designed the study; TS and TH undertook data analysis, supervised by KO; all authors contributed to the interpretation of findings and the drafting of the paper.

  • Funding This work was supported by a grant from Health Education England Wessex Appraisal Service.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The Biological Sciences Research Ethics Committee of the University of Warwick reviewed and approved the study (REGO-2017-2032).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data are stored at the Unit of Academic Primary Care, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick. KO is responsible for the data, which are all anonymised.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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