BRITAIN’S most senior GP has warned that 6,000 extra doctors are needed to help the NHS cope with the looming winter crisis.
Martin Marshall, Royal College of GPs chairman, revealed the perilous plight of primary care, saying it was now “stretched beyond endurance”.
He said the number of full-time family doctors had plunged by 4.5 percent between September 2015 and March this year, as thousands of fatigued medics quit.
But the Department of Health and Social Care disputed this, claiming there was a 0.7 percent increase in the workforce from March 2016 to March 2021.
It has sparked a furious war of words with Mr Marshall, who said: “We’re just emerging from the greatest health crisis in living memory and heading into what will likely be an incredibly challenging winter for the entire NHS. General practice will bear the brunt.
“The Government needs to urgently take steps to make good on their promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team.”
The salvo from the chief of the professional body, which represents the interests of 50,000 members, follows complaints by millions of patients that they have been unable to see a doctor face to face.
Amid a crisis over missed diagnoses, other patients have told how they have been left waiting weeks for a routine appointment.
The escalating demand for GP services, coupled with a dwindling workforce, has created a perfect storm in the NHS.
It has left GPs stressed, burnt out and leaving the profession earlier than planned, Mr Marshall said.
The average GP will realistically have 2,000 patients under their care, each visiting the surgery about five times a year – meaning they are expected to face 10,000 appointments annually.
But in some parts of the country, there are just six GPs looking after 14,000 patients and others are seeing more than 60 a day.
Meanwhile, analysis reveals that 778 GP surgeries closed in just seven years from 2013, with 100 going in 2020 alone. Some will have been due to surgeries merging but in other cases it was because vacancies could not be filled.
The British Medical Association agrees with the Royal College of GPs, saying the workforce is not growing quick enough to cope with current or future demand.
Without an urgent injection of new doctors “the future of the NHS hangs in the balance”, it. “Brinkwire Summary News”.