The demands being placed on the NHS are taking a heavy toll on NHS morale, as it is found that the number of doctors leaving the UK to work abroad has almost doubled beneath the coalition.
A key component of this is elderly population and its growth, which is resulting in many GP practices struggling to meet their needs.
This has led to concerns over the coalitions’ management of the National Health Service, as the influx of demands on the NHS is further exacerbated by the increase in GPs quitting to work abroad.
The Royal College of GPs has warned that up to 600 practices may close in the next year due to poor retention and recruitment of staff. The most recent surveys indicate one in four patients has to wait over a week to see their local doctor.
In 2009, 266 GPs quit to work abroad, however figures for 2013 revealed that 529 GPs were granted with a certificate of good standing which enables them to practise abroad. These figures were provided by the General Medical Council.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, attributes the problem with ll-our work days being the reason GPs would rather work abroad.
She said, ‘
The mass exodus of GPs – driven by soaring demand and plummeting resources – is a clear and present danger to patient safety.
‘GPs are buckling under the pressure of rising demand and falling funding – making 90% of all NHS patient contacts for just 8.3% of the budget. Our research has shown that doctors are routinely having to work 11-hour days and making between 40 and 60 patient contacts per day. We now make 340m patient consultations every year – 40m more than five years ago.
‘Something has to give, and unfortunately, that is our GPs,’ Baker added. ‘On the one hand, GPs are leaving the profession due to intense pressure and a lack of support, and on the other, not enough medical students are opting for general practice because they see the pressure we are under.
‘GPs enter general practice to provide good quality and safe care for our patients, but this is becoming harder and harder to do as a result of diminishing resources. It is easy to understand why working in other countries is becoming so appealing to GPs in the UK.’
However, requesting the certificates does not guarantee that GPs are leaving the country to work abroad, it only grants permission.