NHS AT‘BREAK­ING POINT’ GP short­age is putting pa­tients’ care at risk

Sunday Sun - - News - By Michael Muncaster Reporter [email protected]­i­tymir­ror.com

THE NHS is at “break­ing point”, medics have warned, as fresh fig­ures shed light on the scale of the GP short­age in the North East.

Data pub­lished by the NHS re­veals the re­gion had 1,454 full-time equiv­a­lent GPs at the end of June this year, com­pared to 1,564 in March 2016 – a loss of more than 100 GPs in a lit­tle over a year.

The down­turn comes as the num­ber of pa­tients who reg­is­tered with a GP in the North East rose by more than 18,000 during the same period.

Now, the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (BMA), the or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try’s GPs, has warned a chronic lack of doc­tors is putting pa­tient care at risk. Dr Chaand Nag­paulm, BMA coun­cil chair­man, said: “We know that many doc­tors are strug­gling with un­sus­tain­able work­loads in an NHS that is un­der­staffed and chron­i­cally un­der­funded.

“This has a huge im­pact on their morale and well­be­ing, of­ten lead­ing to stress and burnout.

“With an NHS at break­ing point, if the Gov­ern­ment doesn’t get to grips with this work­force cri­sis, the NHS will strug­gle to at­tract and re­tain highly trained staff, and pa­tient care will suf­fer as a re­sult.”

The data shows that South Tees saw the big­gest per­cent­age de­cline in full­time equiv­a­lent GPs during the 15-month period. Chaand Nag­paulm, of the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion

The area, which cov­ers Mid­dles­brough, had 161 staff in March 2016 but only 140 at the end of June this year – a 14% drop.

The num­ber of GPs fell from 213 to 186 in Northum­ber­land – equiv­a­lent to 13% – and from 158 to 141 in Sun­der­land – or 11% – during the same period.

New­cas­tle and Gateshead lost 8% of GPs from 302 to 274, Durham Dales, Eas­ing­ton and Sedge­field saw a drop from 167 to 156 – or 7% – but staff lev­els stayed at 129 in North Durham.

De­spite de­clines across the ma­jor­ity of the re­gion, North Ty­ne­side saw a rise in the num­ber of full-time equiv­a­lent GPs from 30 to 137, while South Ty­ne­side was up from 85 to 93.

The to­tal num­ber of pa­tients reg­is­tered with a GP in the North East stood at 2,732,690 in March 2016 but in­creased to 2,751,031 15 months later.

He­len Rey­nard, pri­mary care trans­for­ma­tion man­ager for NHS England Cum­bria and the North East, said: “The General Prac­tice Forward View, which was in­tro­duced last year to help ad­dress these chal­lenges, de­liv­ers schemes to help sup­port GP re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion. Ex­am­ples of ini­tia­tives in our re­gion in­clude the in­ter­na­tional GP re­cruit­ment pro­gramme, re­cruit­ing other clin­i­cians, in­clud­ing phar­ma­cists, ther­a­pists and phys­io­ther­a­pists, to work in GP prac­tices to help re­duce GP work­load and sup­port­ing GPs by pro­vid­ing mental health sup­port, when re­quired, and op­por­tu­ni­ties to ac­cess be­spoke train­ing to en­cour­age per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and re­ten­tion.”

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