Health & Lifestyle

Warning over ‘retirement timebomb’ among GPs

The GP will… put their feet up now! Warning over ‘retirement timebomb’ among family doctors with 1 in 5 over the age of 55

The NHS faces a ‘retirement time bomb’ with one in five GPs now over the age of 55 and soon to hang up their stethoscope, figures show.

An explosion in retirements among family doctors over the next few years could make the 8am scramble for appointments worse.

Analysis of NHS data by the Liberal Democrats show almost 8,000 fully qualified GPs are over 55, making up 22 per cent of the total.

Of these, 3,700 (10 per cent) are aged 60 or more, while 1,470 (4 per cent) are aged over 65.

Previous polling has found that almost half of GPs (47 per cent) said they intend to retire at or before 60.

An explosion in retirements among family doctors over the next few years could make the 8am scramble for appointments worse

An explosion in retirements among family doctors over the next few years could make the 8am scramble for appointments worse

The lucrative NHS pension scheme means many can retire early with £1million in their pension pot.

It comes as the government and NHS prepare to publish a workforce plan later this week, which will outline how health leaders plan to plug widespread staffing gaps.

The Liberal Democrats said the plans must include a clear plan to retain and recruit more GPs so people can get an appointment when they need one.

The number of fully qualified and full-time GPs has fallen by 2,165 since September 2015.

Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat’s health and social care spokesperson, said: ‘Communities are facing a GP retirement time bomb that would make it even harder to get an appointment when you need one.

‘GPs on the frontline do an incredible job looking after their patients, but increasingly many are choosing to leave or retire early because of unmanageable workloads.

‘It is creating a vicious cycle, with patients struggling to get an appointment while GPs are under more pressure than ever.

Top experts today claimed MailOnline's probe illustrates how general practice is an 'elastic band stretched to breaking point'. Graph shows the ratio of GP patients to practices since 2015, with an average of 9,755 patients per surgery in May 2023

Top experts today claimed MailOnline’s probe illustrates how general practice is an ‘elastic band stretched to breaking point’. Graph shows the ratio of GP patients to practices since 2015, with an average of 9,755 patients per surgery in May 2023

GPs say their surgeries are overwhelmed due to the pressures of the rising and ageing population, a lack of government funding and a shortage of doctors. NHS statistics show there were 27,231 full-time equivalent fully qualified GPs working in the NHS in England, as of April 2023. Full time equivalent terms equate to 37.5 hours a week

GPs say their surgeries are overwhelmed due to the pressures of the rising and ageing population, a lack of government funding and a shortage of doctors. NHS statistics show there were 27,231 full-time equivalent fully qualified GPs working in the NHS in England, as of April 2023. Full time equivalent terms equate to 37.5 hours a week

‘This week’s plans from the government need to include a clear plan to finally recruit the extra GPs the country needs, without cutting corners, downgrading care or risking patient safety.

‘That should include listening to Liberal Democrat plans to boost the number of GPs so that everyone can get a GP appointment within a week or within 24 hours if in urgent need.’

The figures expose a stark regional variation in the proportion of fully qualified GPs nearing retirement, with almost one in two (46 per cent) aged 55 or over in Southend but just 13 per cent in Northumberland.

The Government wants to expand a trial that has seen legal clinics placed in GP surgeries in a bid to help patients with financial and housing issues that impact on their health.

An initial evaluation of ‘health justice partnerships’, where GPs, nurses and receptionists can book patients into legal advice sessions, found the ‘gold standard’ model is to co-locate legal services within the practice.

The research, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, found clients who had been referred to the legal advice service reported a range of positive outcomes on their health.

However, Professor Azeem Majeed, a GP and professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, told GP magazine Pulse: ‘We need to avoid making GP surgeries the default for addressing all the social problems that afflict UK society.’

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