The GP will… now with his feet up! Warning of ‘retirement time bomb’ among GPs with 1 in 5 over 55s
The NHS faces a ‘retirement time bomb’: one in five GPs is now over 55 and will soon hang up their stethoscope, figures show.
An explosion of GP retirements in the coming years could make the 8am battle for appointments worse.
Analysis of NHS data by the Liberal Democrats shows that nearly 8,000 fully qualified GPs are over the age of 55, representing 22 per cent of the total.
Of these, 3,700 (10 percent) are 60 years or older, while 1,470 (4 percent) are older than 65.
Earlier polls showed that almost half of GPs (47 per cent) said they plan to retire at or before age 60.
An explosion of GP retirements in the coming years could make the 8am battle for appointments worse
The lucrative NHS pension scheme allows many to take early retirement with £1 million in their pension pot.
It comes as the government and the NHS prepare to publish a staffing plan later this week, outlining how health leaders intend to close widespread staffing shortages.
The Liberal Democrats said the plans should include a clear plan to retain and recruit more GPs so people can get an appointment when they need one.
The number of qualified and full-time GPs has decreased by 2,165 since September 2015.
Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat health and social care spokesman, said: ‘Communities are facing a GP time bomb that would make it even more difficult to get an appointment when you need one.
‘Frontline GPs are doing a fantastic job looking after their patients, but more and more GPs are choosing to leave or take early retirement due to an unsustainable workload.
‘It creates a vicious cycle, with patients struggling to get an appointment, while GPs are under more pressure than ever.
Top experts today claimed MailOnline’s research illustrates how general practice is an ‘elastic band stretched to breaking point’. Graph shows the ratio between GP patients and practices since 2015, with an average of 9,755 patients per practice in May 2023
GPs say their operations are overwhelmed by the pressures of a rising and aging population, a lack of government funding and a shortage of doctors. NHS statistics show that as of April 2023 there were 27,231 full-time equivalent fully qualified GPs employed in the NHS in England. Full-time equivalents correspond to 37.5 hours per week
“This week’s plans from the government should include a clear plan to finally recruit the additional GPs the country needs without compromising budget cuts, downgrading of care or patient safety.
‘This also includes listening to liberal-democratic plans to increase the number of GPs so that everyone can see a GP within a week or within 24 hours.’
The figures show strong regional variation in the share of fully qualified GPs nearing retirement, with nearly one in two (46 per cent) aged 55 or over in Southend, but only 13 per cent in Northumberland.
The government wants to expand a trial where legal clinics have been placed in GP surgeries to help patients with financial and housing problems that affect their health.
A first evaluation of ‘health justice partnerships’, where GPs, nurses and receptionists can book patients for legal advice sessions, found that the ‘gold standard’ model consists of placing legal services within the practice.
The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, found that clients referred to the legal counseling service reported a range of positive outcomes on their health.
However, Professor Azeem Majeed, a general practitioner and professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, told GP magazine Pulse: ‘We must prevent GP practices from becoming the standard for tackling all the social problems facing British society.’