Prominent family doctors have warned that there is a “workforce crisis” within general practice in the North East.
In an open letter sent exclusively to The Journal, leaders of the region’s Local Medical Committees (LMCs) say they are very worried about problems with GP recruitment and retention and the message must be “invest now or lose general practice”.
Recent surveys undertaken across Tyne and Wear by LMCs show that 34% of practices in the area are having difficulty recruiting GPs while a staggering 71% of doctors are thinking about early retirement, with 36% of those in their 50s planning to leave their role in the next three to five years.
The letter comes just a day after Labour leader Ed Miliband used his keynote party conference speech in Manchester to pledge that under his leadership £2.5bn-a-year would be poured into a Time To Care fund which could support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives by 2020.
Yet medics in the North East insist that people are not wanting to join the profession as there are many vacancies within the local GP training scheme as only 20% of medical students are pursuing a career in general practice within the region but around 50% is needed to maintain the present workforce.
The letter says: “Patients complain bitterly that they cannot get an appointment to see their GP. This is getting worse and will continue to worsen in the near future, as there is a workforce crisis within general practice now. This crisis, which has been predicted for a while, is already upon us.”
Signatories of the letter include Dr George Rae, Dr Ken Megson and Dr Roger Ford, chairmen of local medical committees in Newcastle and North Tyneside, Gateshead and South Tyneside and Sunderland.
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