GP shortage concerns

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The Government’s plans to recruit thousands of extra GPs and introduce seven-day opening are undeliverable.

New figures reveal that one in five GP trainee posts in England remain vacant.

The North-East is the worst affected area in the country, with almost half the vacancies unfilled.

This is at a time when local GPs are already unable to cope with the current pressure, and patients are understandably frustrated at the lack of appointments and delays getting the treatment they need.

The issue is that, while demand has been continuing to rise, the Government has failed completely to provide the support that local GP practices need, to offer their patients the time and care they deserve.

That’s had a damaging effect on GPs’ morale and well-being.

Many doctors are getting close to burn-out, young doctors are no longer choosing general practice as a career, training places are going unfilled, and senior GPs are leaving the profession.

The failure to recruit new GPs in the North-East is happening at the same time that a third of existing GPs are intending to retire in the next five years.

This combination is incredibly concerning.

It represents a threat to the delivery of effective care to patients as there will be too few GPs to meet their reasonable needs.

The Government must stop burying its head in the sand and address the real issues facing the GP workforce.

Ministers need to undertake a sustained, long-term programme of investment in general practice that gives GP services the ability to cope with rising patient demand and makes it an attractive career option for all medical graduates.

Dr George Rae,

Newcastle GP and BMA representative,

British Medical Association,

Tavistock Square,