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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 01:58 GMT
GP shortage 'time bomb'
GP consultion
Up to three quarters of young GPs plan to quit before 60
The NHS is sitting on a staffing time bomb as more and more young GPs decide to take early retirement, a report says.

GP leaders say that levels are already low, with tens of thousands of new GPs now needed urgently to fill existing gaps.

And they are warning that new research, which shows the majority of young GPs do not plan to stay on after 60, means the NHS needs to train more GPs now to replace them.

A study by Nottingham University's Primary Care Research unit shows that as many as three quarters of young GPs plan to leave general practice before they reach 60.

It is not the job they want to be doing in their 50s and 60s

Dr Hamish Meldrum
This figure is three times higher than the 25% predicted by the British Medical Association (BMA), who said they needed an extra 10,000 GPs for England and Wales.

And this figure is five times that promised by the government.

Flexible lifestyle

Dr Hamish Meldrum, deputy chair of the BMA's doctor's committee said young GPs today want a more flexible lifestyle.

"People want to have more of a family life and that is understandable."

He said many watched their older colleagues getting disillusioned and stressed and are making plans to ensure this won't happen to them as they approach retirement age.

"It is a huge issue. There is not one simple cause or solution.

"It is an indication of what people feel about general practice.

"The young ones see their older colleagues getting disillusioned and the mountain of work not diminishing and it is not the job they want to be doing in their 50s and 60s."

But he said that the new figures mean even more GPs are needed to meet the growing shortage.

GP examines child
General practice: No longer a lifelong vocation for young

Almost 4,000 GPs took part in the research, which showed that the younger the GP the earlier he planned to retire.

Dr Andy Flett, one of the researchers said young doctors no longer view general practice as a career for life.

And that this could have a long term affect on staffing levels.

"The findings suggests there should be caution on depending on people having a life-time in general practice," he said.

Dr Flett said that like many other workers, young doctors wanted more flexibility and more variation.

"I think it is a general trend among the British work force that they seek a broader base of experience to explore different avenues," he said.

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See also:

19 Dec 00 | Health
'Thousands more GPs needed'
22 Oct 00 | Scotland
GPs make resources plea
27 Apr 00 | Scotland
GPs debate funding overhaul
18 Dec 00 | Health
How GPs are paid
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