A third of GPs are considering retiring within the next five years according to a new survey which throws fresh doubt on promises from the main political parties to dramatically increase their number.
Labour is committed to providing 8,000 more GPs with the party's manifesto pledging “GP appointments within 48 hours, or on the same day for those who need it”.
The Tories are promising a “truly 7-day NHS” by 2020, with weekend GP appointments and "a guarantee that everyone over 75 will get a same day appointment if they need one”.
But a survey of over 15,000 GPs by the British Medical Association found that 34% of GPs are considering retiring from general practice in the next five years.
Almost three in ten GPs who are currently working full time said they are thinking about going part time. Nine per cent of all GPs would consider moving abroad and seven percent would consider quitting medicine altogether. And almost one in five GP trainees are considering working abroad before 2020.
The NHS is already facing a recruitment crisis with over 4,500 GP training posts left vacant last year. In the run up to the election the BMA has repeatedly called on politicians to stop playing games with the NHS and instead have an honest and open debate about its future.
The BMA's Dr Chaand Nagpaul said "It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity. GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated.
"In this climate it is absurd that in the recent leaders' debate political parties were attempting to outbid each other on the number of GPs they could magically produce in the next Parliament. Since it takes five to eight years to train a GP it is not possible to create thousands of GPs in this timeframe.”
Ben Molyneux, a recently qualified GP working in London, is trying to find a new job in Australia.
He told ITV News: “I would love to stay here - I love the NHS and everything about it. But I feel like we are being ground down a lot of the time.
"We are being used and squeezed and every last drop is being wrung out - that’s not why we go into General Practice and that’s why people are leaving. If the NHS was funded properly everyone would come back.”
With 9,000 GP's currently in training NHS England has already launched a GP workforce action plan.
A spokesperson said: "NHS England has invested £10m of funding to kick start the initiatives in the plan which include incentives to recruit newly trained doctors into general practice, schemes to retain GPs thinking of leaving the profession and a new induction and returner scheme to encourage more GPs to return from to work after a period of absence working abroad or from a career break.”