Dissatisfaction and burnout common reasons for leaving medical practice

  • Date: 15 October 2021

DISSATISFACTION and burnout were among the main reasons UK doctors gave for leaving their jobs over the period from 2004 to 2019, according to a survey carried out by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Researchers asked doctors to select and rank factors which played a part in their decision to leave. Retirement (27 per cent) or returning to their home country (32 per cent) were reasons cited but workplace issues also figured significantly, including job dissatisfaction (36 per cent), burnout (27 per cent) and bullying (5.5 per cent).

More than 13,000 doctors were surveyed and the research was conducted just ahead of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

The report found that doctors with some protected characteristics were more likely to include certain negative reasons for leaving. For example, disabled doctors were more likely to report bullying as a factor, while BME doctors and some religious groups reported higher levels of bullying and harassment. LGBT doctors more commonly reported mental health issues.

More than half (55 per cent) of doctors who had left UK practice were still working clinically abroad, while 30 per cent had retired.

About a third (35 per cent) said they wanted to return to work but only 23 per cent thought it likely that they would. Of those who thought a return was likely, 90 per cent were abroad.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC said: "This report sheds a fascinating and important light on the reasons doctors leave and what might be preventing them from returning.

"More than a third of doctors who left cited workplace issues, which underlines the importance of addressing dissatisfaction. To encourage doctors and other healthcare professionals to stay in the profession, well-led, supportive and compassionate workplaces are vital.

"It’s clear that there’s no panacea. But improvements in areas like induction and information could also make a big difference in encouraging more doctors to return to practice."

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

Save this article

Save this article to a list of favourite articles which members can access in their account.

Save to library

Related Content

Equality, diversity and inclusion workshop

Equality, diversity and inclusion workshop

Coroner's inquests

For registration, or any login issues, please visit our login page.