Dr Chaand Nagpaul Chairman of the GP Committee of the British Medical Association has conceded that GP surgeries are at ‘breaking point’ and are unable to cope with rising patient demands, lack of resources and GP shortages. Indeed, hundreds of GP surgeries in England have applied to close their new patient lists due to having ‘unsafe’ numbers of registered patients. Dr Nagpul highlighted the concerning situation when he stated “many GPs are buckling under the pressure”.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, expressed her concerns that this is “extremely worrying for patients and will mean even more will struggle to get the care they need.”
Over 600 GP trainee posts were not filled in 2015. This shortage will be compounded by the fact that a third of GPs are due to retire within the next five years. Without adequate resources, general practice will be in crisis that may cause detrimental effects on the quality of care that patients are given.
Dr Maureen Baker, Chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners acknowledged that GPs are struggling to cope with “unprecedented workloads” and patients in some parts of the country are having to wait weeks for a GP appointment.
Part of the problem is that GP practices are desperately struggling to recruit new doctors. This is despite some surgeries offering very generous bonuses as an incentive. This is particularly the case in less attractive locations across the country, such as rural areas or places with extreme poverty or high crime rates.
A recent National Audit Office report showed that failings in access to care were “unacceptable” and that 27% of 850,000 patients polled in a national survey said that they had struggled to simply get through to their GP’s surgery. The report also stated that nearly 6 million patients a year attend A&E hospital departments or walk-in centres because they could not get an appointment with their GP’s surgery. This has a knock on effect of placing a further strain on the already overstretched Accident & Emergency departments.
All of this provides a deeply concerning picture of primary healthcare services in England when financial pressures have already led to fewer doctors and less midwives being available. A shortage of GPs coupled with an ageing population is placing a huge strain on the NHS.
At Moosa-Duke Solicitors we deal with many cases involving negligent GP care. One of the most common criticisms of GP failings is in a delay or failure to refer to specialist hospital departments. In cases of cancer for example, this delay can be fatal. If patients are having to wait weeks for appointments and GPs are being overstretched, it is not hard to see delays having an impact on patient care and tragic mistakes taking place.
It is disconcerting to see how overstretched the NHS is becoming. Good quality healthcare should be available to all. One of the three core principles that the NHS was founded on when it was launched by Aneurin Bevan in 1948, was that it would meet the needs of everyone. The NHS is clearly struggling to meet this need.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are hopeful that the government can ensure effective GP care is maintained across the country, so that patients get the service they need.
We are a specialist clinical negligence firm. If you do have concerns regarding the medical treatment you have received then please contact us. For a free consultation regarding a potential negligence claim call us on 0116 254 7456 or contact us via our website.