An investigation carried out by the Nuffield Trust for the BBC has shown that the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from around 65 in 2014 to 60 in 2018 resulting in the largest decrease in GPs since the 1960s.
The decrease to 60 GPs per 100,000 means that on average a GP now has 125 more patients to look after than they did in 2014 and there is obvious concern as to how this fall in numbers is impacting patient care. An Ipsos Mori Poll for NHS England has found that one out of three people needing an urgent appointment on the day cannot get one. Kent is one of the worst affected areas and Steve Illet, the Chief Executive of Healthwatch Kent, comments that ‘patients have been reporting they are having to wait six or seven weeks for routine appointments. And even when they try to get an urgent one they can be forced to queue outside surgeries before they are open.’
The decrease in GP numbers is a cause for concern not least because the population is ageing and demands on GPs are rising.’ Dr Carmel Boyham, a GP in Plymouth, highlighted the pressures GPs are currently under telling the BBC’s Panorama that GPs were dealing with 50 to 60 patients a day and the situation was simply ‘not safe’. Her practice has had no success in attempting to recruit a third senior doctor over the past five years and during this time the practice’s patient list has increased by 7000. The Nuffield Trust considers that another 3,500 GPs would be required to restore GP numbers to what they were in 2014.
NHS England have acknowledged the ‘significant pressure’ the service is under and maintain that steps are being taken to tackle the pressure on general practice stating that training places are increasing and attempts being made to increase the number of health staff working alongside GPs. More than 20,000 extra physiotherapists, paramedics and support workers are being recruited to help see GP patients in England, with all parts of the UK said to be trying to address the pressures on general practice.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have received unsafe services from a GP or been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 to discuss your concerns.