Half of GPs plan on retiring ‘aged 60 or before’, new survey reveals


Half of GPs plan to retire before the age of 60 or when they hit that age, a new poll has revealed.

A survey of more than 800 GPs for Pulse magazine found around 47% intend to retire at or before 60.

Of these, 11% said they intended to retire aged 50 to 55, with only 14% intending to retire aged 66 or over.

Those responding to the survey gave a number of reasons why they wanted to leave the profession, with the most common being burnout and workload, although issues with pensions were also a significant reason.

Pulse said its survey suggests there is a greater appetite for retiring early than in its previous polls.

Many GPs discussed the intense workload of the job as a factor in them potentially retiring earlier (PA)

Warrington GP partner Dr Martin Whitenburgh, who aims to retire at 50 to 55 years old, told Pulse: “The sooner I leave this mess the better. I don’t recognise the job anymore and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone pursuing a career in general practice.”

A salaried GP, who wished to remain anonymous, told Pulse they also aim to retire between 50 and 55 as they “cannot sustain the workload”.

They added: “Two of my close friends, both excellent GPs, have left the NHS due to the workload and stress. One has gone to Bupa and the other to an insurance provider.

“It’s all about politics, not funding primary care properly – encouraging the public to think private is the way forward.

“Conscientious doctors are leaving because they can’t/won’t do a bad job for the patients but the current system doesn’t allow them to do their jobs properly.

What does the future look like for GP services?

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The number of highly trained, experienced GPs planning to leave the profession early is concerning but not altogether unsurprising given the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and our teams are working under on a daily basis.

“Good work is ongoing to encourage junior doctors to choose general practice, and these efforts have been successful.

“But if more GPs are leaving the profession than entering it, we are fighting a losing battle.

“We need to see just as much effort going into making general practice an attractive and sustainable career for existing GPs, so they can continue delivering frontline patient care in the NHS and mentoring the next generation of family doctors.

“The Government has promised 6,000 more GPs by 2024 but are not on track to deliver this, but they cannot give up on it.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are grateful to GPs for their hard work and we are supporting and growing the workforce – including by investing at least £1.5 billion to deliver an extra 50 million GP appointments a year by 2024.

“There were over 1,400 more doctors working in general practice in March 2022 compared to the same time in 2019 and a record-breaking number started training as GPs last year.”

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