Comment: Address falling GP numbers now or face further damage to our health service
In response to the news reported this week that the NHS has seen the first sustained fall in GP numbers for 50 years, Junior Litigation Executive, Hannah Smale from Fletcher’s Medical Negligence Serious Injury Department in Manchester believes the time has come for the NHS to assess the sustainability of General Practice.
“It has been reported by The Nuffield Trust in the North West, there are a reported 58.7 GPs per 100,000 people.
This is the first continual decrease in the number of GPs for 50 years.
This decrease has occurred despite there being an increase in demand for GPs in the UK due to longer life expectancy and a larger number of elderly patients suffering from more complicated health issues.
A shortage of GPs in the UK could be one reason behind longer wait times for GP appointments experienced by patients, which will potentially have an effect on the number of clinical negligence claims brought against GPs.
A shortage of GPs will also have a knock-on effect not only on patients, but on GPs and practice staff who are under immense pressure and face the stresses of meeting the patient demand while the number of GPs continues to fall.
The BBC have reported that the pressures on GPs will be reviewed as part of a Panorama investigation.
The NHS must consider the ways in which it can make General Practice more sustainable and meet the needs of its patients going forward.
Efforts have clearly been made to recruit more doctors into General Practice to deal with this ongoing issue, however this is clearly a problem that the NHS must carefully address due to its far reaching consequences.”