GP shortage fuelled by rising numbers of part-time workers

Credit: This story was first seen on The Telegraph

The average GP now works a four day week, fuelling shortages of doctors, health officials say.

The head of Health Education England (HEE) said the millennial generation did not want to work the hours done by baby boomers, The Telegraph reports.

The average doctor now works four days a week, when it used to be around four and a half, health officials said.

As a result of this, the number of full-time-equivalent doctors in the system has reduced.

Professor Ian Cumming said: “Our workforce are choosing to work fewer hours. Part of this is because of generation Y and Z and millennials starting to come through, who are increasingly not wanting to work the same number of hours that many of the baby boomers and generation X want to work.”

The average GP worked 90% of full-time hours in 2009, NHS data shows – equivalent to four and a half days.

But now the figure is 83%, Prof Cumming said – which is closer to a four day week.

The chief executive said that overall, the NHS has seen a 10% reduction in clinical hours worked by GPs in recent years.

Professor Cumming told delegates at NHS Confederation’s conference in Liverpool: “Another way of putting that is you’re dealing with 10% more patients, you’re under 10% more pressure.”

The trend is likely to continue and grow, he said.

Last year a study by The King’s Fund found only one in 10 trainee GPs plan to work full-time.

Patients’ group said the trend was  “extraordinary” and that family doctors were lucky to be able to afford to work part-time, with average earnings of £100,000 for a GP partner.

Two thirds of GPs under 40 are female, with part-time working popular among those raising families.

Last month new figures prompted warnings that waiting times to see a GP are set to soar amid a six-fold rise in vacancies for family doctors.

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The statistics show record shortages of GPs, which have already fuelled rising waiting lists and surgery closures across the country.

The findings from Pulse magazine show 12.2% of positions are currently vacant – an increase from 2.1% in 2011.

And almost one in five of GPs polled said they had given up trying to recruit a doctor in the last year because it had proved impossible.

Latest figures show the number of patients waiting at least a week for an appointment has risen from 13.8% to 19.3% in three years.