Doctor’s warning over “perfect storm” GP recruitment crisis

The Eastern Daily press 5th July reports: Doctor’s warning over “perfect storm” GP recruitment crisis

Senior doctors have warned that more health practices will be forced to de-register patients in East Anglia because of a national GP recruitment crisis.


Patients spoke of their anger last month after Watton Medical Practice told 1,500 people that they would have to register with another practice because the surgery was unable to hire two new doctors.

However, fears have been raised that more medical practices in Norfolk will have to de-register some of its patients as a result of a “perfect storm” with senior GPs retiring early and not enough new blood joining general practice.

Officials from the British Medical Association (BMA) said that since January, Norfolk and Waveney’s local medical committee, which covers 120 practices, has advertised 56 vacancies for GPs, with around half of those remaining unfilled.

Tim Morton, a partner at Beccles Medical Practice and chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, said it was a “certainty” that more surgeries would have to strike patients off their list because of a lack of doctors. He added that GPs were regularly working 11 to 12 hour days and job adverts used to attract up to 50 applicants, but practices would be lucky to get one applicant nowadays.

“We have a perfect storm of a crisis. We have a predominately mature GP workforce, most are in their 50s and late 50s and they are retiring early because of the pressures of the workload. They would have carried on working to 65, but they say they do not need the hassle. At the other end we have an output from medical schools and GP training schemes who look at the workload and can not cope with it and decide not to commit to a career in general practice.”

“The problem with Watton is that it is having a domino effect. If you have one practice failing to recruit and getting longer waiting times and demoralised workforce, the surrounding practices are overwhelmed as well. Watton is just one example and there are examples of several like that,” he said.

A spokesman for NHS England – the organisation responsible for commissioning primary care – said they did not know how many GP vacancies there were in the region. However, 36 GPs retired in Norfolk over last two years, according to figures from a Freedom of Information request. Only eight GPs in the whole of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire retired in 2013/14 and 2012/13.

Nationally, there are 451 unfilled vacancies, according to the BMA.

Andrea Patman, head of primary care for NHS England East Anglia, said: “NHS England is committed to ensuring patients have access to high quality healthcare and believes that general practices in East Anglia continue to offer high quality primary care services to their patients. The area team does however recognise that recruitment of GPs is a national problem. We will continue to work with our GP practices and in close collaboration with the local Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health Education England to help recruit and retain the very best GPs, recognising the opportunities that this area has to offer.”

What are your experiences of primary care in Norfolk? Email

NHSreality told you this was coming 2 years ago…

GP leaders warn of workforce crisis as 10% of GPs are over 60

and there are over 4 pages of entries on GP recruitment on searching..


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “Doctor’s warning over “perfect storm” GP recruitment crisis

  1. Pingback: The hidden danger ahead. GP practices may not have the financial strength and planning foresight to trade through when wages rise. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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