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The headline: 1.5% drop in full time equivalent (FTE) GPs in the last 12 months, which translates in to a 1.2% drop in headcount (HC).
It is no secret that the number of GPs is not keeping up with the rising demand on general practice. While some progress has been made with recruitment into general practice training, it is the conversion of these trainees into fully qualified GPs, and more importantly remaining in the workforce, that is going to start making a difference. As I have said numerous times, this will not happen overnight, and we will not realise the ambition of expanding the GP workforce to a meaningful level for years to come.
What are the solutions?
The first one is to retain the GP workforce. There are many reasons why experienced GPs leave the workforce early. The biggest reason is the draconian pension regulations that force GPs out of the workforce. This needs fixing, and quickly.
Long-term solutions like expanding the number of places at medical schools, improving the focus on general practice education at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and appropriately resourcing GP education and training will all play a role in stopping the rot.
There is something in the workforce data published last week which is a cause for some optimism. It is the data that shows that the number of clinical staff in general practice is heading in the right direction. A 19% increase in this group since 2015 under the current climate in general practice tells us that there are clinical staff who are willing and ready to join the teams in our surgeries, including clinical pharmacists, paramedics, first contact physiotherapists, physician associates and many others.
While this is a reason to be positive, the Government cannot consider the problem solved. Our ambition over the next five years is to expand the primary care team with allied health care professionals by over 20,000. This requires investment and commitment like we’ve never seen before.
The priorities remain:
While suggesting technology and artificial intelligence as solutions is fashionable at the moment, failure to realise the above three priorities will be the failure of general practice and, potentially, the NHS.
Krishna Kasaraneni is a GPC England executive team member
May be making extended hours compulsory as part of the Network DES and then moving the goal posts on the DES doesn't really help this cause...
Talk about organising a booze up in a brewery - as Anonymous noted they keep piling on more complex plans and caseloads on the falling numbers of GPs.
The wonder is why our esteemed GPC Members and LMCs remain starry-eyed in the face of relentlessly increasing demands placed on the remaining GPs and sign up to the ridiculous plans (Network DES the latest) and advise how to implement them? It seems nobody in the BMA has the stomach to call out BS when they smell it..
Reading this makes me sad. It just reinforces my presumption the BMA hasn’t a clue. It’s clear it has no interest representing its members. General Practice has already collapsed. I own a business where the product I sell (my services) is in short supply. Why doesn’t the price go up ? In fact it keeps going down. A business where I would make more money and have less work if I became employed. Why would anyone borrow money to invest in this business? I see friends from university with large houses, cars and planes. I drive a dinged up car and can’t afford a holiday, I worry about bankruptcy, the GMC, google reviews, my mental health, inspections, complaints, daily abuse, my children being ashamed to tell their friends I became a GP(perceived as a failed doctor) the list goes on. Pensions-couldn’t care less??? Having to be responsible for more people - physios/pharmacists (less time more risk). I don’t see how any of the things you propose improved my life in any way.
This actually taught me more than I expected!
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