The capacity of the UK GP workforce has not kept pace with increasing primary care workloads.
Although many doctors successfully complete GP Specialtyist Training programmes, some do not progress to work in NHS general practice.
This paper explores the training experiences and perceptions of newly qualified GPs to understand how their education, training and early experiences of work influence their career plans.
Design and Setting
A qualitative study gathered data from doctors in their final year (ST3) and within 5 years of completion of GP training (F5) using open, narrative interviews with 15 individuals and 10 focus groups of 63 participants.
Participants across England were recruited through training programmes, First 5 groups, and publicity using social media and networks. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed, and a thematic analysis supported by NVivo and situational analysis mapping techniques.
Most doctors reported that training programmes had prepared them to confidently deal with most aspects of routine clinical GP work. However, they felt underprepared for the additional roles of running a practice and in their understanding of wider NHS organisational structures. Doctors wished to avoid unacceptably heavy workloads and voiced concerns about the longer-term
sustainability of general practice.
Strategies to attract and retain enough GPs to support delivery of comprehensive primary care should consider how doctors’ early career experiences influence their career intentions. A coherent plan is needed to improve their preparation and increase confidence that they can achieve a professionally satisfying, effective and sustainable career in NHS general practice.