Health Foundation: Feeling the Strain: What the Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 international survey of GPs means for the UK

Author Helen Mthiyane
Posted 2020.03.28

This publication presents UK-focused analysis of The Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Doctors in 11 Countries. This includes responses to several UK-specific questions funded by the Health Foundation.

The 2019 Commonwealth Fund survey compares perspectives from GPs across 11 high‑income countries. The survey asked GPs’ views on their working lives, changes in how they deliver services, and the quality of care they can provide to patients.

The previous Commonwealth Fund survey in 2015 showed that UK GPs were the most stressed of the 11 countries surveyed, with more than one in five GPs reporting being made ill by the stress of work in the previous 12 months. But since 2015, pressure on general practice in the UK has increased. The population has grown and the number of GPs (headcount) per person has fallen. Higher GP workload has negatively impacted on GP morale, increasing the likelihood of GPs leaving the profession or reducing hours, and worsening workforce shortages.

Against this backdrop, the Health Foundation presents its analysis of the data – including comparisons with the 2015 survey where possible. The data are presented under three main themes:

1. how GPs view their job

2. what care GPs are providing and how it is changing

3. how GPs work with other professionals and services.

The results are presented for the UK as a whole, with differences between UK countries highlighted only when they are of particular interest. The final section of this analysis discusses the implications of the results and what they mean for policy in England, though the implications we identify are likely to be broadly relevant across the UK.

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