The Role of the GP: How Has It Changed?
The pressures facing GPs have arguably never been more challenging than they are right now. With one in twenty GP practices having closed since 2010, the demands on individual GPs are only increasing. This has had a serious impact on the role of the GP and their experiences of working in the NHS. The knock-on effects have extended to issues such as stress and job dissatisfaction, not to mention concerns over the quality of patient care GPs are able to offer.
To understand the changing role of the GP in the UK over recent years, we look at the ways GPs jobs have changed, what these changes mean for GPs and what individual GPs can do to help themselves cope with these changes.
How the role of the GP has changed in recent years
Rising patient numbers and the closure of so many surgeries mean UK GPs are now the most stressed in the Western world. GPs spend less consultation time with patients than in other Western countries, impacting the quality of patient care they are able to provide and increasing the pressure doctors are under.
The push for a “seven-day NHS” is also due to increasing doctors’ workloads as are plans to transfer more care services previously carried out by hospitals into the community. All of this is taking place against a continual squeeze on NHS resources, meaning GPs are constantly being expected to offer more for less.
What the changing role of the GP means for doctors
Almost 30% of GPs are considering quitting due to the changing demands of their profession. Only 26% of GPs feel they have enough time with patients, which implies a clear impact on the quality of patient care doctors is able to provide.
The shortage of GP practices in the face of growing patient demand also means GPs are often having to work longer hours to keep pace. Many doctors find this has an increasingly negative impact on their personal life, including their family, with this being a major reason why many are considering leaving the profession.
How GPs can cope with the changing demands of their jobs
“The best part about this service, is that it gives a perfect work-life balance to us as GP’s, and in particular, for mums of little ones. There is, by far, no other speciality that can offer such a flexible working pattern.” Dr Muninder Walia
Many GPs find they can achieve a much better work-life balance and higher job satisfaction by working as a locum GP performing out of hours work. This is because this type of work can offer far greater flexibility, allowing you to work as much as you want to and making it easy to schedule your work around your other responsibilities.
East Berkshire Primary Care (EBPC) Out of Hours Service is a non-profit social enterprise supplying NHS services for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead. Our core services include urgent out-of-hours medical care provided with the support of locum GPs.
In a recent survey of our GPs, we found that 95% of our GPs approve of EBPC management and the same percentage are happy with the level of clinical care they are able to provide while working with us. We feel this shows the strong benefits our out of hours GP service offers for both doctors and patients.