latest health care news

01.06.16

Forward View must be ‘implemented urgently’ as one in eight GP posts unfilled

The scale of the GP crisis has been revealed in a survey showing that 11.7% of all GP posts in the country are vacant.

The vacancy rate has increased by more than five times since 2011, when it was 2.1%, and by 2.6% since last year’s rate of 9.1%.

Official figures show that the total number of full-time equivalent GPs is 34,055, compared to 34,712 the year before. 

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, responding to the survey by Pulse, said: “General practice is currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures, caused by years of underinvestment in and undervalue of our service.

“This survey brings home just how important it is that we do everything in our power to recruit more GPs, urgently implement schemes to retain existing ones, and make it easier for trained family doctors to return to practice in the UK following a career break or period working abroad.

“General practice is the bedrock of the health service. We keep the NHS sustainable and our patients safe, so it’s vital that we have enough GPs and practice team members to do so for years to come.”

She called for the recommendations in the General Practice Forward View, which seeks to tackle the shortage of GPs with increased funding and recruitment, to be “implemented urgently”.

However, GPs rejected the proposals at the British Medical Association (BMA) Local Medical Committee conference and voted on the possibility of industrial action unless the government implements the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice to address the pressures on GPs.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA General Practice Committee, said: “The government must ensure that practices that are suffering recruitment problems will be supported and relieved of admin pressures and be allowed to close their lists. The most important thing is that practices do not feel forced to practice unsafely.”

GP consultations increased by 15% in 2010-15, and the growing demand has had consequences across general practice. One in 10 GP practices describe their finances as unsustainable, and UK GPs have the highest rates of stress in the world.

The Pulse survey also found that 73% of practices have had to recruit at least one GP in the past month and 47% have had to recruit a partner.

The average time to recruit a partner is now 6.6 months, compared to 5.7 months last year, and 23% of practices spend more than a year searching, compared to 18% last year.

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