Executive Summary of the 8th GP Work/life survey

Executive Summary National surveys of General Practitioner (GP) working conditions and attitudes to primary care reforms have been undertaken by the University of Manchester in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. We undertook the eighth survey in this series in the spring and summer of 2015. The surveys provide a consistent series over a long period on GP job satisfaction, stressors, hours of work and intentions to quit. Each survey has a nationally-representative, cross-sectional element and a longitudinal element. In 2015, there were 1,172 respondents in the cross-sectional element and 1,576 respondents in the longitudinal element. This report highlights key findings from the survey and makes comparisons with previous surveys. Job satisfaction The level of overall job satisfaction reported by GPs in 2015 was lower than in all surveys undertaken since 2001. On a seven-point scale (‘extremely dissatisfied’ (=1) to ‘extremely satisfied’ (=7)), average satisfaction had declined from 4.5 points in 2012 to 4.1 points in 2015 in the cross-sectional samples and by a similar magnitude in the longitudinal sample. The largest decreases in job satisfaction between 2012 and 2015 were in the domains relating to ‘hours of work’ and ‘remuneration’. Satisfaction with colleagues and fellow workers had improved relative to 2012. Hours of work Respondents to the 2015 survey reported working an average of 41.4 hours per week. This is a small (0.3 hours) decrease compared to the 2012 survey. Fewer GPs reported that their practice offered extended hours access at the weekend (31% versus 32%) and on weekdays (72% versus 76%) than in 2012. The reported proportion of time (62%) devoted to direct patient care was the same as in 2012. Stressors and job attributes In 2015, GPs reported most stress due to ‘increasing workloads’ and ‘changes to meet requirements of external bodies’ and least stress due to ‘finding a locum’ and ‘interruptions from emergency calls during surgery’. Reported levels of stress increased between 2012 and 2015 on all 14 stressors. The increases were generally in the range 0.2 to 0.5 points on a five-point scale. Reported levels of stress are now at their highest since the beginning of the National GP Worklife Survey series in 1998. Many attributes of GPs’ jobs had changed very little between 2012 and 2015. In 2015, the proportion of respondents reporting that they ‘have to work very intensively’ was 95%. Eight-nine percent of respondents reported that they ‘have to work very fast’. Fewer than 10% of respondents thought that ‘recent changes to their job had led to better patient care’. Intentions to quit The proportion of GPs expecting to quit direct patient care in the next five years had increased from 8.9% in 2012 to 13.1% in 2015 amongst GPs under 50 years-old and from 54.1% in 2012 to 60.9% in 2015 amongst GPs aged 50 years and over. Conclusions The 2015 results continue the trends observed in recent waves of the National GP Worklife Survey. The 2015 respondents reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction amongst GPs since before the introduction of their new contract in 2004, the highest levels of stress since the start of the survey series, and an increase since three years ago in the proportion of GPs intending to quit direct patient care within the next five years.

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