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More GPs will face dole queue

Increasing numbers of GPs face the prospect of unemployment in the next few years, a leading GP educationalist is warning.

Dr Anne Hastie, director of postgraduate general practice education at the London Deanery, told a BMA conference last week that GPs were 'in for a stormy two or three years' because of a series of workforce developments.

The supply of GPs was increasing, but the number of places they competed for had begun to fall, she said.

New GP contracts encouraged higher list sizes, fewer GPs and use of cheaper alternative health professionals such as physician assistants, resulting in vacancies plummeting.

Dr Hastie said: 'It may well be we do see some medical unemployment among GPs. We are getting information from GPs they can't get jobs. What's happening in London is a lack of partnerships. We are getting 50 to 80 applicants for single roles.'

Professor Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at the University of York, said growing lists could see nurse teams led by a GP handling up to 4,000 patients each.

He said: 'GPs are an expensive commodity and between 70 and 80 per cent of things can be done by nurse practitioners.'

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