NIHR POLICY RESEARCH UNIT IN HEALTH AND
SOCIAL CARE SYSTEMS AND COMMISSIONING

Completed projects

Ninth National GP Worklife Survey
Doctor examining patient

The National GP Worklife Survey is a national survey of GPs in England, which has been undertaken nine times since 1999. The survey focuses upon GPs’ experiences of their working lives, asking questions about: satisfaction with various aspects of their work (including physical working condition, remuneration, variety, and ability to use their skills); sources of pressure at work (including resource pressures, demands from a variety of sources, and workload); overall experience of their work (including complexity and need to work quickly); and future working intentions (including to increase or decrease working hours and to quit practice).

The number of GPs who say they are likely to quit direct patient care within five years rose to an all-time high of 39% in 2017, up from 35% in 2015. The figure rose from 61% in 2015 to 62% in GPs over 50. Among this group, the majority said it was highly likely (47%) or considerably likely (15%). In contrast, 13% of GPs under 50 said there was a considerable or high likelihood of leaving direct patient care within five years and 45% reported that there was no likelihood.

More than nine out of 10 GPs reported experiencing considerable or high pressure from ‘increasing workloads’. Although there has been relatively little change between 2015 and 2017, average reported pressures remain at a high level relative to previous surveys.

Also in the survey, overall job satisfaction has increased slightly since the previous survey in 2015, though levels of satisfaction in 2015 were the lowest since 2001. Satisfaction with aspects of the job, such as remuneration, hours of work and amount of responsibility given, although slightly higher than in 2015, remain lower than in the surveys undertaken before the introduction of the new GP contract in 2004.

The respondents reported working an average of 41.8 hours per week. Stated working hours per week have remained largely stable since 2008. 36% said they worked fewer than 40 hours per week, 28% between 40-49 hours, 16% reported working between 50-59 hours and 20% reported working 60+ hours per week.

The percentage of respondents earning £110,000 per year or more fallen from 34.6% in 2010 to 31% in 2015 and rose to 32.5% in 2017; their median hours worked per week increased between 2010 and 2017.