Family doctors warn of ‘workforce crisis’ within general practice in the North East

Helen Rae in The Newcastle Journal 24th September reports: Family doctors warn of ‘workforce crisis’ within general practice in the North East 

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.

Persistent political  denial has led to undercapacity….

Update 26th September – BMJ News 2014;349:g5828  reports: GP leader warns of exodus from the profession

The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners will next week urge the government to act to avert a potential exodus from the profession, as ongoing pressure prompts more UK trained doctors to consider early retirement or working overseas.

Speaking ahead of the college’s annual conference in Liverpool on 2-4 October, Maureen Baker warned that the United Kingdom was letting good doctors “slip through our fingers” and said that urgent action was required to try to prevent more doctors leaving the UK workforce.

Figures released on 19 September by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that UK GPs have seen their income fall for the seventh successive year in …


This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, Professionals, 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.

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