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Revealed: The only region in Britain where GP workload is 'manageable'

GPs in just one region have said their current workload is 'manageable' in the BMA’s latest 'heat map' of pressures across England, Scotland and Wales.

The map shows the country is dominated by practices reporting their workload as being ‘often unmanageable’ with hotspots around London, Birmingham, and North Wales.

But in East Yorkshire, the constituency of Beverley and Holderness represents a solitary island of optimism on workload, though local GPs suggest this may equally be a quirk of local workforce demographics.

The map shows that even Beverley and Holderness isn’t immune from some of the pressures – GPs there in all but a handful of constituencies have noticed increasing level of demand from patients.

And they are equally hard pressed to find locum cover.

The BMA heatmap is based on data from the GP Patient Survey, with the BMA updating it throughout the year.

The map, which covers just over 630 constituencies in total, also shows:

  • GPs in just 20 constituencies reported their practice's current financial position as 'strong'
  • The quality of service GPs feel they can provide has improved in eight areas, with the majority saying things have deteriorated in the past 12 months
  • Nowhere in the country reported patient demand for appointments decreasing in the past 12 months; just eight said it had stayed the same
  • 15 constituencies reported they had a high number of vacancies for GP positions that had gone unfilled for more than three months.

It comes as Pulse has revealed the average waiting time for a GP appointment could pass two weeks next year, and as GP practice vacancy rates hit their highest-ever levels, with one in eight positions unfilled.

Heat map UK

Heat map UK

Dr Zoe Norris, who lives in the Beverley area and practises in nearby Hull, told Pulse the region may be bearing up because of a younger-than-average practitioner and ‘luck more than anything’.

Dr Norris, who is also a member of action group GP Survival told Pulse it was a desirable area with 'good housing and schools' and this helped attract younger GPs and that GPs weren’t leaving en masse – 'yet'.

Dr Norris said: ‘We get people coming from Scarborough, Hull and York Vocational Training Scheme. Basically it’s a nice place that’s been stable for a number of years and they haven’t been impacted by lots of people leaving, yet.

‘It’s probably just in the age of partners in the past five to 10 years are a bit younger, you haven’t had the spate of retirements that you’ve had elsewhere in the country.'

Humberside LMCs medical director Dr Krishna Kasaraneni told Pulse that every region has patches that are struggling with workload and some that are less affected.

He said: ‘There certainly isn’t a different way of working, or a special initiative in Beverley. I think it’s a combination of population mix and GPs and trainees being relatively close by.

‘Even though in Humberside you have significant recruitment issues, particularly in North and North East Lincolnshire, this is kind of a “good news patch”.’

The GP workload crisis

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted last year that ‘successive governments’ had underfunded general practice as ‘penance’ for the 2004 GP contract and GPs have been beneficiaries of both a ‘new deal’  and a ‘forward view’ in the last 12 months aimed at turning this around.

After a long delay NHS England has begun to put money into initiatives to expand and diversify the workforce in general practice, by recruiting admin assistants or pharmacists, and the GP Forward View was supposed to put a stop to the burden of hospitals dumping workload on GPs.

But as pointed out by GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, NHS England and the Department of Health have let the situation deteriorate for so long that immediate short-term support is needed – something which is lacking in the recent GP Forward View.

Readers' comments (30)

  • Wherever I work is manageable. Join the locum crew 😄

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  • Same here. Max 28 patients/day, no admin, no on-calls, no home visits and a heck of lot more money :) Did I mention stress-free?

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  • Strange, in southeast if you have young (even though deprived) population they pay you only for 80% of your list size at the min permissible rate per patient. Wonder what rate of payment per patient is handed out in Hull.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    I agree with Chaand. If we wait for the benefits of the GP Forward View to materialise over a five year period there may be very few practices in some areas left to benefit. The Family Doctor Association has been pushing for relief now - for reversal of the MPIG removal (anyone remember the words "in perpetuity"?), the slowing of PMS financial changes and the investment in the Global Sum to compensate for vastly higher practice expenses which are hitting all practices irrespective of size. It is sad that only one area of the country is doing OK at present - and that is a fragile situation.

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  • There is a small flaw in the lets all be locums plan - you need some of us to stay as partners and employ you ! Maybe if more of us stayed as partners we wouldnt need locums and it would be the other way round.

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  • Partners do NOT employ locums, the NHS does. Surgeries are being rigged to function very well without partners FYI. Wake up and smell the coffee. Partners are a thing of the past and rightly so. You had your chance and you blew it.

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  • I am packing my bags and going there. Join the Q.

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  • @11:14 - For many people working as a locum is less busy and more lucrative than a partnership role.

    But there are some partnerships that do better than others, and some that do better (financially) than locums. If you work out my daily rate after taking out leave/ study leave and Tuesdays (as a day off) I earn between 50% and 100% more than the locum that we use from time to time.

    Our workday is slightly longer - perhaps 20% longer.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    not quite sure where our Anonymous sessional GP gets the idea that the NHS employs locums. I think there is a DEN here.
    I would love the "NHS" to employ a locum so that I could take some holiday. Unfortunately, the bill stays with me as the practice principal. Every pound I pay a locum is a pound I don't earn. At the going rate round here of £750-900 per day including on call, I have to fund £4500 a week before going on holiday. So I cannot afford a holiday so far this year.

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  • 14th june 10.49 raised a good point to why most gps are only being paid for 80% of their list size?
    Why are gps allowing the government to defraud them in this way?
    Ok if some docs have some ghost patients this can be corrected but why are they accepting of this illegal withholding of payment?
    Seems incomprehensible to me.
    Why are the BMA not being forced into taking action by the people who actually pay them.
    It is dumb dumb dumb......and quite franckly immoral.

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