Intended for healthcare professionals


General practice is facing its biggest ever workforce crisis, BMA warns

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 21 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2814
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

General practice is experiencing the biggest workforce crisis “since its inception,” the BMA has warned.

Delegates at the BMA’s conference of local medical committees (LMCs) in London voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to ensure that GP funding, recruitment, and retention were tackled as its first priority for the NHS.

The motion also called on the government to ensure that “GPs who are leaving the profession early are supported to stay in practice” and that “all those wishing to return to the profession are fully supported and encouraged to do so.”

Proposing the motion, Anne Jeffreys, from Hull and East Yorkshire LMC, highlighted the difficulties of recruiting junior doctors into general practice. She said that in the Humberside region only 191 of the 291 available GP training posts had been filled.

She said that it should also be easier for GPs to return to work. “Anyone who has worked abroad and who wants to return should be welcomed with open arms and not given a pile of paperwork and be told they can only work under supervision.”

Jeffreys said that current general practice was “not the job we went in to, nor the job we want.” She added, “There does need to be a step change in general practice—a step change to increase resources and increase respect from all policy makers.”

Jeremy Cox, from Hertfordshire LMC, said that one practice in his town had been advertising for a replacement partner for over a year. “There are a lot of recently retired GPs in our local area whose knowledge and skills could be of use to us. But I would be embarrassed to ask them back at the moment to do the job that I am doing,” he said. “The whole package of general practice needs to improve to attract new doctors and retain the old ones.”

Jamie Macpherson, from Coventry LMC, spoke against the motion. He said, “I do believe GPs are complicit in the problem of retention and recruitment. We are guilty of constantly talking the job down: bemoaning the problems with workload, the increasing demands on our time, and the incessant monitoring by . . . the Care Quality Commission, etc.”

He added, “Despite this, for me being a GP is a huge privilege, and I can’t imagine a job I’d rather do . . . I believe we will never attract young doctors into the profession or old doctors back if the message is constantly one of doom and gloom.”