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BACKGROUND: It is current UK policy to expand the numbers of newly qualified doctors entering training to become GPs, to meet increased demand. AIM: To report on trends in young doctors' views on the attractiveness of general practice as a career, compared with hospital practice. DESIGN AND SETTING: Questionnaire surveys in the UK. METHOD: Surveys of doctors, 3 years after graduation, conducted in successive year-of-qualification cohorts between 1999 and 2015. RESULTS: The overall response rate from contactable doctors was 55%. In response to the statement 'General practice is more attractive than hospital practice for doctors at present', 59% of doctors agreed in the 1999 survey, 77% in 2005, and only 36% in 2015. One-third of doctors agreed that their exposure to general practice had been insufficient for them to assess it as a career option, but this improved over time: agreement fell from 39% in 1999 to 28% in 2015. As a factor influencing specialty choice, enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the specialty was rated as very important by 65% of intending GPs in 2015, up from 49% in 1999; the corresponding figures for intending hospital doctors were 91% in 2015, up from 61% in 1999. CONCLUSION: Over the 16 years covered by this study, the attractiveness of general practice has fallen relative to hospital practice. This may not necessarily reflect a decline in attractiveness of general practice in absolute terms; rather, it may reflect a greater increase, over time, in the appeal of hospital practice.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Gen Pract

Publication Date





e238 - e247


career choice, general practice, health workforce, hospital practice, Attitude of Health Personnel, Career Choice, Choice Behavior, General Practice, Health Care Reform, Health Care Surveys, Humans, Personnel Loyalty, Personnel Selection, Physicians, United Kingdom