One in six doctors will leave the NHS in the next two years, the British Medical Association (BMA) has claimed.
Its predictions show that more than 7,000 doctors are planning to retire early or leave by 2008, causing huge problems for the NHS.
Many general practitioners (GPs) have delayed retirement to benefit from significant salary increases and contract changes.
“A GP who worked out his pension in April 2003 and looked again in April this year could have seen the value of that pension go up 40%,” said Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA’s GPs committee.
“So a lot of GPs who might have thought about retiring in 2003, 2004 or 2005 could understandably have decided to hang on until 2006.”
The BMA estimates that thousands more GPs are needed to cope with rising demands and changes in the delivery of NHS care.