NHS in crisis: GP levels unsafe
The BBC reports that the NHS is experiencing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in 50 years.
Nuffield Trust think tanks carried out analysis on behalf of the BBC. And they found that there is now only 60 GPs per 100,000 people in the UK.
In 2014 it was nearly 65.
Patients report that they are having extreme difficulties in getting appointments with their GP surgery:
- There is a 6-7 week wait to get a ‘routine’ appointment
- Some people wishing to see their GP in an urgent appointment are queuing outside their surgery early in the morning to get a same day appointment
The last time GP numbers were at this level was in the 1960s.
Yet, we are facing an aging population. And the demand on the NHS is bigger than ever.
“This is very worrying. GPs are the Primary Carers within our NHS system and are essential for providing access to their patients via referrals to the wider NHS, Hospital Consultants, Physiotherapists etc. If they remain overworked and under immense pressure due to rising demands it follows that not only will patients not be receiving essential primary care, access to the wider services that the NHS provides will be extremely difficult. I worry that the difficulty in getting an appointment coupled with the fact that GPs are stretched; there are real dangers to patients. They may not go to the doctors for symptoms and therefore serious conditions may be diagnosed in late stages. When this happens with cancer, the consequences can be devastating.”
Recruitment drive results yet to be seen
There has been an increase in training places for junior doctors in General Practice, but as it take 3 years to become qualified, the results are yet to be seen.
Plus, GPs are opting for earlier retirement. The numbers have doubled in the last five years.
GPs are concerned. Patients are worried.
“Our GPs are the cornerstone of our NHS system, a system that gives access to healthcare for all. If the GP system fails, then we stand to lose an essential service that is needed by so many.”
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