Under pressure

What the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK

February 2016

Edward Davies
Sara Martin
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Key points

  • 29% of GPs in the UK want to leave the profession within 5 years: understanding this phenomenon and retaining existing GPs needs to be a priority for policy makers.
  • GPs in the UK report higher levels of stress and lower satisfaction with practising medicine compared to other countries in the survey. 67% of UK GPs report being satisfied compared to an average of 79% across all other countries.  
  • A key area of dissatisfaction is the length of appointment times – 92% of GPs report spending less than 15 minutes with patients, compared to an average of 27% across all other countries
  • GPs in all countries report struggling to coordinate care for their patients. The UK compares favourably in terms of communication between hospitals and GPs. However, GPs report challenges coordinating care with social services and community providers.
  • The UK is a leader in the use of electronic medical records, with 98% of GPs routinely using an EMR in daily practice.

Every 3 years, the US-based Commonwealth Fund coordinates a survey of general practitioners (GPs) and primary care physicians across 11 countries. This report provides UK-focused analysis of the 2015 survey, which included several UK-specific questions funded by the Health Foundation.

The report centres on three topics of particular interest: GP satisfaction, care coordination and use of electronic medical records.

The survey provides insight into how GPs perceive their working lives and practices at a time when health services across the UK are seeking to develop more services in primary care.

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