Around 60% of GPs say that the number of staff working in GP practices will decrease as a result of Brexit, a survey by the publishers of Pulse has revealed.

The survey of 1,734 NHS primary care staff, including 750 GPs, found that there are concerns the triggering of Article 50 would have a negative effect on staffing and budgets.

Only 3% of staff believe that Brexit will have a positive effect on staffing levels, with more than 50% saying that it will have a negative effect. The study by the research division of Cogora found that GPs are more pessimistic than their primary care colleagues around staffing and budgets.

It also found that more staff thought Brexit would have a negative view on the number of patients accessing NHS care than a positive one- which contradicts the Leave campaign's claims that leaving the EU would help address 'scandalous' NHS waiting times.

The main survey findings resolve around the negative effect on staffing levels, with 50% of all staff saying the numbers of GPs will decrease, and 60% saying the number of nurses will decrease.

The findings come amid a recruitment crisis in general practice, with the Government's pledges to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020 currently struggling. Official figures last year revealed that the number of full-time equivalent GPs in the NHS decreased in 2015-16, while Pulse studies have revealed that vacancy rates for GPs are increasing every year.

Around 10% of registered doctors and 4% of nursing staff come from the EU, according to the GMC. And NHS England has made a concerted effort to target GPs from the EU through a £20m scheme to ease the recruitment crisis, with 25 GPs already recruited in Lincolnshire and more set to be recruited in Hull. But the status of these EU nationals post Brexit has yet to be confirmed or guaranteed by the UK Government.

For any more information on this survey, please contact Victoria Stanway, analyst in the research division of Cogora on 020 7214 0629, or victoriastanway@cogora.com.


Notes
1. The survey was answered by 1,734 primary care staff. They included: 747 GPs, 564 nurses, 255 GP practice managers, 66 commissioners and 16 health visitors/ midwives.
2. The survey was distributed to subscribers of The Commissioning Review, Management in Practice, Nursing in Practice and Pulse between 10 August 2016 and 21 September 2016. Respondents who were not currently working as healthcare professionals due to e.g. retirement, or who worked abroad, were excluded.
3. Full survey results:

What impact do you think the triggering of Article 50 will have on...
The NHS budget
Negative impact 39% (GPs: 45%)
No impact: 26% (GPs: 25%)
Positive impact: 10% (GPs: 7%)
Unsure: 25% (GPs: 23%)

Number of GPs working in the NHS
Negative impact: 51% (GPs: 61%)
No impact: 25% (GPs: 22%)
Positive impact: 3% (GPs: 2%)
Unsure: 20% (GPs: 15%)

Number of nurses working in the NHS
Negative impact: 58% (GPs: 68%)
No impact: 21% (GPs: 16%)
Positive impact: 3% (GPs 2%)
Unsure: 18% (GPs: 14%)

Number of other primary care staff working in the NHS
Negative impact: 50% (GPs: 60%)
No impact: 26% (GPs: 20%)
Positive impact: 3% (GPs: 2%)
Unsure: 21% (GPs: 18%)

Time spent by staff assessing patient eligibility for NHS care
Negative impact: 46% (GPs: 52%)
No impact: 18% (GPs: 16%)
Positive impact: 10% (GPs: 9%)
Unsure: 26% (GPs: 23%)

Time spent by staff assessing patient eligibility for NHS care
Negative impact: 21% (GPs: 21%)
No impact: 32% (GPs: 35%)
Positive impact: 18% (GPs: 17%)
Unsure: 29% (GPs: 26%)