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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Under-pressure GP practice issues letter asking patients to 'bear with us'

A GP practice has written to patients asking them to ‘bear with’ them, while they are doing their best to cope with the GP recruitment crisis.

Dr Mike Haugh, a partner at the Brunel Medical Practice in Torquay, Devon, explained to patients that the practice ‘constantly’ advertises for new GPs but ‘rarely receive any applications’.

He explained that the GPs who have remained after a number of recent retirements often work ‘12-14 hour days’ and went on to ask patients to do their bit to help by asking for telephone appointments and cancelling appointments they cannot make among other actions.

The letter said: ‘I am writing to you on behalf of the doctors and staff at Brunel about some of our current difficulties in providing a high quality and timely service to you. As you know, from various media, the NHS is experiencing great difficulty with the recruitment of GPs and nurses to work in primary care…

‘This situation is likely to continue for some time as very few new GPs finish their training, and each has an abundance of options. This is the new reality for general practice.’

Dr Haugh added that the practice was taking steps to try to continue to give the best service to patients, with the phone consultations being part of this.

He said: ‘We have tried to cope with growing demand by holding as many consultations as possible over the phone… We appreciate that this is less than ideal, but it is one of the few ways we are able to prioritise demand. So if a receptionist asks for a brief summary of your problem, this is so that the more urgent cases needing a fast response time can be highlighted to the doctor.’

He added: ‘We would appreciate if you could bear with us for the moment. We will continue to do our best but any help you could give us would be very much appreciated.’

The news comes as Pulse reported last week on figures indicating training programmes in some areas of England had struggled to fill half of places this year.

Readers' comments (9)

  • I suspect a lot of practices will be writing such letters soon.

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  • These things are cyclical.It will get better

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  • Anonymous- No, it won't. Canada here I come!!

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  • cyclical - no
    cyclonic - yes

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  • "very few new GPs finish their training, and each has an abundance of options. This is the new reality for general practice.’

    this is the most important part of the letter to understand; traditionally new GP's had to "fit" into the existing infrastructure within England. even as near (or as far back if you like!) when I qualified the main options for work were salaried and locuming and the very few fortunate were offered the golden ticket of a gp partnership; Australia then wanted 5 years post qualification experience and emigration was a non entity;

    GP LAND needs to fast get out of its slumber!!!! its a new world and it is indeed as the gentleman pointed out a new reality for general practice..... and rightly so. the hierarchical system in England is falling apart....why should the juniors be the skivvies??? many are just as qualified or even more so than older partners . If the nhs wants to retain the folk it currently has and is paying to train then things need to change fast..

    oz and Canada, new Zealand may be going into recession soon but generally professionals there still have a higher premium and standing in society even when times are tough......

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  • you just have to look at other developed countries to see why GPs are emigrating. better work conditions, better life conditions, less taxes, more money, better work hours. The NHS really needs to up its game to retain GPs.

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  • Harry Longman

    Tough situation, but no need to see telephone consultations as "less than ideal". If they are the norm for patients seeking help, then much GP time is saved and patients won't need to be put off as they have been.

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  • I simply do not get it!!! Why cant we just say " sorry mate, you were seen 87 times in the past year and there was fu*k all wrong with you. DO NOT DO IT AGAIN OR YA BARRED"

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  • Harry, the problem with Telephone consultations is in a lot of cases, it saves time from a home visit, but not necessarily compared to a consultation in the surgery. Visually reviewing a patient can provide added clinical value.
    Telephone consults have their place in certain situations, but in a lot of cases it doesn't save time. It could even increase time, especially when you've telephoned the patient and then asked them to see a doctor after. I understand both sides of the argument about telephone triage.

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