Crisis in GP numbers prompts call for local scrutiny

Labour councillors are calling for local data on GP numbers to be discussed at the next Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) following news last week from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) that 500 GP surgeries across England could close next year.

The RCGP cites "a deepening crisis in GP recruitment and retention" and estimates that:

  • More than 1,000 GPs will be leaving the profession on an annual basis by 2022;
  • Around 22% of GPs in London could step back from front line patient care within the next 5 years (with 41% of London GPs being over 50);
  • The number of unfilled GP posts has nearly quadrupled in the last three years  (2.1% in 2010 to 7.9%  in 2013).

A member's item submitted by Underhill councillor and Chipping Barnet parliamentary candidate Amy Trevethan asks that the Health Scrutiny committee on 20 October: 

"receives a report from NHS England on the current data related to unfilled GP posts in Barnet and their plans to ensure Barnet residents:

a) can register with a local GP

b) are able to obtain a speedy consultation when requested

c) are assured that there will be sufficient GPs to cope with extra demand

d) are assured that plans are in place to ensure increased GP coverage takes account of the expected varied rise in population in different parts of the borough

Please also provide data broken down by constituency and ward as follows:

e) the current GP shortfall, missed targets on appointments and gaps in cover."

Cllr Trevethan said: "We have grave concerns about the lack of GP capacity in Barnet at a time when the population is set to increase dramatically and more responsibility is being placed on GPs to commission all local health services. 

"We need to know where there are gaps and how this is affecting local people so we can plan for the future. 

"This is the latest crisis in a long list under this Tory-led government who have wasted £3 billion on a top down re-organisation of the NHS without any electoral mandate for it, axed 5,000 nursing jobs and left A&E services creaking at the seams." 

The RoyalCollege also stated last week that the current GP workforce is too over stretched to deliver on 12 hour, 7 day access for patients at every GP practice – something they believe will require 8,000 more GPs by 2020 rather than the 5,000 that David Cameron has now promised. 

Labour has pledged to deliver the extra 8,000 GPs through a "time for care" fund which will pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 midwives by 2020.  This will be paid for by a crackdown on corporate tax loopholes, a ‘mansion tax’ on properties valued at more than £2m and a levy on cigarette makers.

Notes:

1. Details of the RCGP figures on GPs:

http://www.rcgp.org.uk/news/2014/october/over-500-surgeries-at-risk-of-closure-as-gp-workforce-crisis-deepens.aspx

http://www.rcgp.org.uk/news/2014/september/gp-workforce-too-overstretched-to-deliver-more-flexible-access-to-all-patients-says-rcgp.aspx

 2. Cllr Trevethan’s Member’s Item:

HOSC Member's Item in the name of Cllr Amy Trevethan

GP numbers

The Labour Group have grave concerns about the lack of GP capacity in Barnet to deal with the increase in population, the further growth arising from planned regeneration and the increasing number of older people and those with long-term conditions. The policy of treating people at home and the increased role of GPs due to greater integration will place further strain on already overstretched surgeries. Nationally GPs are making nearly 340 million patient consultations every year - 40 million more than 5 years ago. Recent figures published by the Royal College of General Practitioners shows that in the last three years the number of unfilled GP posts has quadrupled in from 2.1 per cent in 2010 to 7.9 per cent in 2013.

Estimates suggest that applications for GP training have meanwhile dropped by around 15 per cent.

I ask that HOSC receives a report from NHS England on the current data related to unfilled GP posts in Barnet and their plans to ensure Barnet residents:

a) can register with a local GP

b) are able to obtain a speedy consultation when requested

c) are assured that there will be sufficient GPs to cope with extra demand

d) are assured that plans are in place to ensure increased GP coverage takes account of the expected varied rise in population in different parts of the borough

Please also provide data broken down by constituency and ward as follows:

e) the current GP shortfall, missed targets on appointments and gaps in cover.

3. BBC coverage of Labour’s announcement on 8,000 GPs: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29339137

For more information contact Cllr Amy Trevethan: cllr.a.trevethan@barnet.gov.uk.

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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