More than half of GPs planning to retire in the next two years have cited NHS reform as a reason for them going, early findings from a major British Medical Association survey suggest.

The details have been published ahead of the start of the annual GP conference of Local Medical Committees in London.

The BMA survey, which asked GPs about their working practices as well as a range of questions relating to current government health policy, was sent to every GP in the UK in April.

More than 18,000 GPs responded, a response rate of 39 per cent, making it the most significant survey of GPs in recent years and indicating the strength of feeling among them about the issues in question.

After age, NHS reform was the second commonest reason for GPs planning to retire in the next two years - 71 per cent and 56 per cent respectively.

If the results were extrapolated the survey suggests that in the next two years, approximately 6,700 GPs across the UK plan to retire, of whom approximately 3,700 would say that NHS reforms were a factor in their decision.

Approximately 1,345 family doctors plan to leave general practice, not because of age but at least in part because of NHS reforms.

Other key findings from the survey suggested that, on average, respondents believe it is important for other professional groups to be involved in consortia, with hospital consultants and public health doctors the most important and local councillors the least important.

Elsewhere, three-quarters of GPs (76 per cent) do not believe consortia should be paid performance-related bonuses (often referred to as the ‘quality premium’) for commissioning.

Speaking ahead of the LMC conference, BMA GPs Committee chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: “If these reforms are to stand any chance of being successful, the Government must carry health professionals with them. Ensuring that there is an explicit duty on commissioning consortia to fully involve all relevant clinical staff in commissioning and changing the role of Monitor to encourage collaboration among NHS providers rather than competition, are key changes to the Bill that the BMA has been seeking.

“Above all, patients must be reassured that their GP continues to place their needs at the heart of any clinical decisions and the Bill must be amended to ensure that this trusted relationship is preserved.”