Workload pushing many doctors to retire early

The number of doctors planning to retire early from the NHS has more than doubled in under a year, according to new figures from the BMA.

While half of respondents (2,099) in the association’s latest tracker survey said they plan to work fewer hours, 25% said they were ‘more likely’ to take a career break, with a further 21% considering leaving the NHS altogether for another career.

Asked why, many doctors pointed to workload, including the inability to take breaks or leave. 

A third of respondents (1,352) to April’s survey said they were considering leaving the NHS early (compared to 14% last June).

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

BMA council chairman and GP Dr Chaand Nagpaul called the potential exodus ‘deeply worrying’.

‘More than half of doctors are afraid of an unmanageable workload to try and deal with the backlog of millions of patients who are waiting for treatment, and most do not feel that their hospital or department will be able to cope with demand’, he said. 

‘Three out of five doctors are worried about the impact of the backlog on patient care.

‘It’s worth noting that our latest survey also found that 57% of doctors said they only feel ‘partly’ protected from Covid-19 at work – a shockingly high figure for this stage of the pandemic, and perhaps another factor playing into increased stress among healthcare workers.’

He urged the UK Government to act as a matter of urgency. ‘Without doing so, we face a mass exodus of staff leaving the NHS and patient care put in serious jeopardy, all at a time when we need our health service more than ever before.’