Older GP Workforce: What Does It Mean?

As the population of the UK gets older, it’s no surprise that the workforce across different industries is also ageing. The BMA recently released a report that highlighted the ageing NHS workforce and the need for better support for older doctors to keep them working.

With many junior doctors leaving the profession at an early age or going part-time, it’s vital that the NHS retains its experienced staff. So what’s the secret?

The older GP workforce in the UK

According to the BMA, more than 50% of NHS workers are aged 45 and over, while one in two GPs is aged over 45. While the experience they bring is invaluable, many older GPs are facing the strain of today’s NHS, where the hours are long, doctors are facing burnout and there’s a lack of work/life balance. This is leading many GPs to consider early retirement, taking their knowledge and expertise with them.

Understanding how practices can support older workers is important if we want to keep them in the workforce. Flexible working, supported workloads and the ability specialise in areas they enjoy could reduce the number of GPs who retire early.

The older GP workforce has a lot to offer in terms of mentoring, training and education, and finding solutions that play to their strengths while minimising the risk of burnout could help bring positive change to practices.

Solutions for older GPs

The older workforce is continuing to rise. by 2050, it’s predicted that two in five will continue to work over the retirement age. This will help the older population contribute to the economy – a role which is usually thought of as being fulfilled by younger generations. If the healthcare industry continues in the same way, the NHS can expect to see an even higher number of GP roles being carried out by older workers.

There are several benefits that come with an older GP workforce. Having more experience in healthcare could provide benefits to patients, especially when it comes to hard-to-diagnose conditions or during times of crisis.

Many older patients also say that they prefer to see a doctor who’s a similar age to them, which is something that boosts the doctor-patient relationship and makes consultations more meaningful.

There are solutions for GPs who want to remain in the field without facing the pressures that many doctors feel today. One way to minimise GP stress is to turn to out-of-hours working instead of working during regular clinic opening times.

Out-of-hours doctors face different challenges compared to their in-hours counterparts, working in a more triage-based role that has less paperwork and fewer returning patients. This change in working patterns could help older doctors enjoy a better work/life balance and enjoy more flexibility.

If you’re interested in working out of hours, you can view the latest vacancies on the East Berkshire Out of Hours GP recruitment page. With various roles available, these roles could present a fantastic alternative for older GPs looking to stay in the profession as they approach retirement age.