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Early retirement of UK doctors

In 2014 a national survey of all UK medical graduates from 1974 and 1977 found that the average age at retirement among hospital specialists was 59.6 years, that women were retiring earlier than men (men 59.9, women 58.9) and that there was substantial variation by specialty.

The average retirement age of UK doctors contrasts with trends in the general population. Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 show that the average age of exit from the labour force for men is now 65.1 years, a rise of 2 years since 1998. But for women, the average age of retirement has jumped by 3.3 years since 1998 alone, to reach 63.9 years. In recent years the BMJ has repeatedly reported that official bodies, including the BMA, are worried about an impending medical workforce crisis compounded by early retirement.

The commonest reasons given amongst doctors for taking early retirement were pressure of work and reduced job satisfaction with 43% of the doctors who had already retired citing “pressure of work”. Obstetricians and gynaecologists were among those most likely to cite “out of hours work” as a reason for retiring.