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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Many GPs 'considering quitting'
GPs say their morale is low
One in six GPs is thinking of quitting general practice, a British Medical Association (BMA) poll finds.

Doctors' leaders blamed low morale on fears about NHS privatisation, and the undermining of the core values of general practice.

More than half the 11,000 GPs who took part in the survey (53.2%) said things were worse now than five years ago.

Nearly two-thirds (63.1%) said NHS changes over the past decade have made it harder to practise good medicine.

GPs are worried about the future of general practice in this country
Dr Laurence Buckman
British Medical Association

The BMA said GPs were uneasy about policies which they saw as putting cost-cutting ahead of quality, and said doctors had been subjected to a long-running "doctor-bashing" campaign.

The survey found only 51.9% would recommend a career as a GP to an undergraduate.

Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee said: "GPs are worried about the future of general practice in this country.

"They have concerns about the negative impact current policies could ultimately have on patient care and they feel they are being attacked for achieving and surpassing government targets."

Fragmented care

Dr Buckman said doctors could see the case for limited use of private providers to deliver NHS care, but most thought the widespread use of the private sector in primary care would do nothing to improve quality of services to patients.

He said doctors were also worried that the doctor-patient relationship was under threat from reforms which they fear could make care more remote and fragmented.

The survey also found 53.3% of GP partners would consider extending opening hours if the resources were available.

But 72.5% did not believe it is a good use of NHS resources.

Nine in 10 doctors also said the complexity of consultations has increased since the introduction of the new contract.

Many doctors believe they have received unfair treatment in the media over significant pay increases since the introduction of a new GP contract.

Figures show that in the first year of that contract GPs earned an average of 100,000.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Extra investment has improved both the range and quality of services provided to patients by their GPs and delivered better working arrangements for practitioners."

But Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "Ministers' talk about consulting doctors over reforming the NHS is meaningless if doctors feel left out in the cold.

"Unless you get doctors on side, government reforms will be doomed to failure."


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