GPs in the UK are the least satisfied among high income countries with amount of time they have with patients, a report shows.
The analysis from the Health Foundation found just one in four UK GPs are satisfied with appointment times, which are among the shortest of the 11 countries surveyed.
The study shows only France has lower levels of overall satisfaction with practising medicine and only Sweden reported higher levels of stress.
Over half of UK GPs (60%) said they find their job extremely or very stressful, and 49% plan to reduce their weekly hours in the next three years.
The number of permanent full-time GPs in the UK has fallen
by 1,700 since 2015…
…but the number of patients per GP grew from
2,180 to 2,240 last year alone
Source: Health Foundation
The report highlights growing workload pressures, with the number of qualified permanent full time equivalent GPs in the UK falling by 1,700 since 2015.
The number of patients per GP grew from 2,180 to 2,240 last year alone, and UK GPs reported that they are doing more of most types of patient consultation, including face to face, telephone triage and telephone consulting.
Dr Rebecca Fisher, one of the Health Foundation report’s authors and a practising GP, said the findings illustrate the pressures faced by general practice and the strain that GPs are under.
“Right now the health system is in unprecedented territory and mobilising to meet the challenge of Covid-19. This survey shows that over the long term we need concerted action to stabilise general practice,” she argued.
Dr Gary Howsam, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, warned that unless significant steps are taken to make working in general practice more sustainable for existing GPs, they will burn out and leave the profession earlier than planned.
“GPs want to do their best for their patient but as more people are living with multiple, long-term conditions, standard 10-minute consultations are rarely appropriate to deliver the complex, high-quality care our patients deserve,” he said. “We often find ourselves trying to cram far too much into 10 minutes, not only trying to deliver holistic care, but fitting in the increasing number of things we are expected to do during a consultation. No GP wants to hurry an appointment, and the result of having to doing so is stressful and dissatisfying for the GP and can leave patients feeling as though they have been rushed.”