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NEWS: How GP shortages leave patients queuing

by in GP Practice Management, News

Some practices now have one GP responsible for 11,000 patients, it has been reported.

In some of these practices patients are facing nine-week waits for appointments, the Times reported.The newspaper’s findings are the latest to highlight the UK’s shortage of GPs. This is in despite British GPs being among the world’s best paid general practitioners, according to another report.

It found that GP trainees – whose numbers are expanding – now undertake about 20% of appointments in practices. A separate investigation by the paper today highlighted shortages of female doctors in some areas – with 10% of practices only having male doctors on the staff.

The paper highlighted a practice, Albion Place in Maidstone, Kent, with one permanent but part-time GP and 11,000 patients. It has failed to gain permission to close. The investigation found a practice in Walsall, West Midlands, which only has locum GPs – working long-term – caring for 10,400 patients.

Reporters highlighted long queues of patients waiting first thing in the morning to get appointments at many practices.

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall called for urgent action to deliver the government’s pledge to recruit 6,000 extra GPs. He said: “We need to see detailed plans as to how this will be achieved. It is not right or safe that some GPs are responsible for looking after so many patients, as this investigation has found.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the paper: “We are working hard to recruit and retain more family doctors, with the number of primary care professionals in general practice increasing over the last year. We are also committed to expanding the skill mix of general practice – ensuring patients have access to a wide range of highly-skilled health practitioners such as physiotherapists and pharmacists.”

Albion Place said that two locums and a full-time salaried GP are due to start work next month.

* A report out today says that only Germany pays GPs better than the UK. The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also found the UK has the second lowest proportion of doctors to people in Europe – 2.9 doctors for every 1,000 people.

Gaetan Lafortune, from the OECD, said: “The differences between the UK and other countries are very striking, particularly when we you look at how many GPs are leaving the profession much earlier than in other countries.”

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