GP shortage crisis expected in the UK by 2020

Having trouble finding a GP? It is predicted that General Practitioners in the UK will fall into a deep crisis within the next five years, as plans to move more care out of the busy hospitals looks set to drive people to their GPs. There is already a declining number of GPs in the UK and the health service as a whole is suffering from low morale, which means the current plans to integrate out of hospital services are looking unlikely to be successful.

The demand of GP services has never been so high that linked with the shortage of GP's has created an unparalleled pressure and level of stress for the existing doctors. This has created an un-attractive sector for newly graduated doctors to specialise in, with many opting for the acute setting as their preference.

One in three medical posts unfilled

Demand for GPs has been outstripping supply on an ongoing basis. Despite government support and initiatives, 1 in 3 training posts remain unfilled. However, there is work under way to counteract this situation and companies such as this one are trying to remedy the problem. They are trying to push the use of locum doctors into local practices in order to increase the amount of GPs available.

As an agency, they have looked further afield within European neighbours to try to meet demand. Although they have experienced some success in recruiting hard to fill positions, there remains a shortage. YWHC often find themselves competing with other countries for the same group of professionals, GPs, proving that they are not alone in this crisis for trained GPs.

In fact it’s a worldwide issue. In a recent survey YW conducted, 77% of GPs were contemplating leaving the UK in search of a more balanced approach to work and a greater work life balance.

Some 34% of GPs retiring

There were other worrying figures that surfaced during the research, with 34% of GPs looking to retire within the next five years, which would see the current level of service decline even further. It takes from five to eight years to fully train a GP, which means it is simply impossible to create the thousands of GPs needed within the current timeframe. Outsourcing jobs to foreign GPs could help to relieve the problem, if only on a temporary basis while the UK works on training more home-grown GPs.

However, the NHS has responded to the current crisis by claiming that measures have been put into place to generate more GPs: “NHS England has invested £10m to kick-start the initiatives in the plan, which include incentives to recruit newly trained doctors into general practice, schemes to retain GPs thinking of leaving the profession and a new induction and returner scheme to encourage more GPs to return from to work after a period of absence working abroad or from a career break.”

The real answer remains within the training of GPs. The profession has to become more attractive for new graduates to choose this specialist career path, the pressure on UK’s GPs has to be alleviated and the rewards have to be in line with their hospital based colleagues to ensure that the training places for GPs are filled and avoid a sector crisis in the near future.

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