Trainees shun GP partnerships

THE vast majority of new GPs plan to avoid partnership roles in favour of locum or salaried work, a new survey shows.

Only 15 per cent said they planned to look for a partnership “in the current climate”. Seventy-seven per cent said they would rather take up locum or salaried work, citing a desire for flexibility and a dislike of commitment.

More than 2,000 GP trainees across the UK responded to a survey by Wessex LMCs, including 700 who are due to qualify this summer.

Just under half (47 per cent) said they would consider a partnership in five years’ time, blaming factors such as political uncertainty and long working hours. Concerns were also raised about the future provision of out of hours care.

Responses also highlighted a level of disillusionment amongst trainees, with a quarter saying they planned to take a break of more than two years out of general practice at some point in their career. A further 12 per cent plan to leave the country within the next 12 months and five per cent were already mentioning burnout or exhaustion.

Most comments (83 per cent) about trainees’ impression of general practice were negative, the survey found.

Wessex LMCs CEO Dr Nigel Watson said: “These results confirm what we are seeing locally.

“It is sad to see younger doctors becoming disillusioned before they have really commenced on their career - disillusioned doctors leaving general practice means ultimately less appointments for patients and increasingly overstretched services.

“General practice is a fantastic career – we need to work hard to re-establish general practice as an appealing and positive career choice.”

The survey highlighted a trend for GPs to pursue a “portfolio career” with 40 per cent saying they would look to develop a special interest in education or in a hospital specialty.

More than 1,400 suggestions were made on how to reverse the downward trend in recruitment. Common themes included ending the constant negative media and government attention, greater respect from hospital doctors, more GP funding and more GP foundation placements.

There were also calls for trainee surgeons and other doctors to spend time in general practice to increase their understanding of the challenges GPs face.