Derbyshire doctors’ surgeries ‘in crisis’ with six facing ‘immediate risk of collapse’ - GP body warns

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Doctors’ surgeries in Derbyshire are in crisis with half a dozen facing an ‘immediate risk of collapse’, a GPs’ group has warned.

Many more have ‘undeclared problems’ caused by a massive increase in workload due to more patients bringing more complex problems, the Derbyshire Local Medical Committee (LMC) revealed to the Derbyshire Times.

Recruitment to the specialism is also struggling, with around 40 per cent of places on GP training programmes in the county going unfilled.

The organisation has spoken out after Ofsted-style reports were published on thousands of practices around the country by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), stating that many could be putting patients at risk.

Chesterfield GP and LMC official Dr Jenny North said: “The extreme difficulty in persuading clinicians to work in general practice seems to have many causes, centred on the fact that the amount of work undertaken in primary care has risen dramatically both in terms of the number of appointments requested, and also the complexity of individual needs. Much of our time is spent with older people who have mixtures of health problems which all need be considered in a paltry ten minute appointment slot.

“The many pleasures of being a GP, for example being reminded every day of the trust that so many patients have in us and the satisfaction of being involved with families and groups over years, is being lost in a perpetual struggle to get through the work.

“As a consequence of this increase in workload, the job is no longer attractive to young doctors in training, doctors near retirement and even GPs in their 30 and 40s.

“Government figures show that 54 per cent of GPs over the age of 50 are intending to pull out of direct patient care within five years, whilst our East Midlands GP training scheme is currently only 61 per cent full despite repeated recruitment rounds. GPs are haemorrhaging from the system and not being replaced, and the longer this continues the more the remaining GPs will struggle.”

Her sentiments are echoed by Dr Nadine Kale, senior GP at the Holywell Medical Group which runs five practices across Chesterfield and Staveley. The group was criticised by the CQC over the service it was offering patients, but said that the published reports into their work did not take into account a recent inspection.

She said: “Holywell Medical Group recognised early on that we faced difficulties with GP recruitment. We have therefore been concentrating on diversifying the clinical team to enable patients to have access to a wide range of skills and services.

“There is no simple solution to this issue. Health professionals and patients need to work together to ensure that any crisis is averted.”

“We are continuously having to review and adapt our services in line with budget constraints. Ninety per cent of patient contacts across the NHS occur in GP surgeries yet funding has reduced from 11 per cent to eight per cent of the total NHS budget in recent years.”

Jonathan Rycroft, deputy director of commissioning for NHS England (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire), said: “Despite the increased pressure on GPs, there are many innovative practices in Derbyshire delivering high-quality patient care through diverse clinical teams.”

“We know the challenges around GP recruitment and retention and we are working with Health Education England and the Royal College of General Practitioners nationally to accelerate the rate at which GPs are trained and recruited.”