Only two in three doctors who are completing their training to become GPs plan to work in NHS general practice, research by the University of Warwick has found.

Furthermore, of those intending to remain in the NHS, most plan to work as locums or salaried GPs rather than entering a GP partnership, the online survey of 178 GP trainees showed.

Just over half of respondents, 62.8 percent, stated that they expected to be working in six months as a salaried, locum or other non-principal NHS GP, dropping to a third (33.9 percent) at five years, while the proportion expecting to become a GP principal rose from less than 5 percent at six months to a third (33.9 percent) at five years.

The quality of general practice experience during training was cited as influencing personal career plans, and in particular perceptions about workload pressure and morale within training practices, the researchers said.

Also of note, 56.4 percent felt that the current political and media comment about general practice was negatively influencing their career intentions, and that those who were negatively affected by the media’s portrayal of the profressopm were more likely to report a low morale.

“General practice is experiencing a growing crisis with the numbers of doctors who are training and then entering the profession in the UK failing to keep pace with workforce needs,” warned Professor Jeremy Dale at the University’s Warwick Medical School. “With ever-increasing workload in general practice, there is an urgent need to understand and where possible address these issues at national and local level.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the research is “incredibly concerning” and that the prospect of losing family doctors so early in their careers “could be disastrous for the NHS”.

“Unfortunately, these findings are a clear indication that trainees are being put off from a career in general practice because they are seeing first-hand the intense resource and workload pressures GPs and our teams are facing across the country.

“Workload in general practice has risen 16 percent over the last seven years, but resources for our profession has declined, and our workforce has not risen at pace,” she noted, adding: “The GP Forward View launched by NHS England could be the lifeline that general practice needs - but our annual assessment of its progress shows that things are not moving as quickly as they could in certain areas.”