Mass exodus of GPs forecast as a care crisis looms
Forty percent of GPs in Kent are planning to leave general practice in the next five years.
A survey of 250 surgeries in the county found half of respondents feel they are working in “inadequate premises”.
The study, carried out by the Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC), said the majority of GPs were planning to retire, but warned younger recruits were not replacing them in the numbers required.
The survey also showed half of respondents already have a practice vacancy for a GP and 40% have yet to fill unoccupied positions for one or more nurses.
The alarming figures come amid an expected population increase of 5.4% in Kent and Medway by 2021, meaning GP services will come under more pressure.
It is also anticipated the number of people aged over 65 will rise by 25% during the same period.
Of the 343 GPs who responded to the survey, 32.94% worked in west Kent, 14.87% in Canterbury and nearby coastal areas, 11.95% in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, 9.91% in Medway, 4.66% in Swale, 12.24% along the south Kent coast, 8.16% in Thanet, and 5.25% in Ashford.
The LMC, which acts as a voice for GPs, said there was a mis- match between the reality and the government’s objectives to have an 8am to 8pm service.
“Seventy percent of respondents consider their current workload to be unmanageable and 90% consider this workload to have a negative impact on the quality of patient care.
“How can this be sustained over additional hours?
“Any proposed gains in appointments face being overwhelmed by the inevitable destruction of continuity of care.”
The LMC added government promises to increase GP numbers were not being met, accord- ing to latest figures for General Practice, which show a decrease in full time equivalent GP numbers of 0.3%.
It called for patients to campaign through their MP for increased funding to improve GP services and urge them to promote the development of a medical school in Kent to attract more young medical professionals to the area.
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Under pressure - alarming figures report 40% of GPs will leave in the next five years