HEALTH: Plans for GPs undeliverable

The Government’s plans to recruit thousands of extra GPs and introduce seven-day opening are undeliverable as new figures reveal that one in five GP trainee posts in England remains 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 in 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 wellbeing, with many doctors 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 and 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.

Dr George Rae,

Newcastle GP.