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Independents' Day

NHS England steps in to help practices struggling to recruit GPs

Exclusive NHS England has promised to help attract new GPs as practices in Essex face a recruitment crisis, with one permanent GP to more than 8,000 residents in one area.

Pulse has learnt that the area team has stepped in after difficulties in recruiting GPs in the north-east of the county.

A spokesperson told Pulse: ‘The Essex Area Team is actively working with individual practices to immediately address the situation and swiftly put in place interim arrangements to help manage this.’

This includes working with providers ‘to enable them to consider new ways of working to meet the challenges currently affecting primary care’.

And ‘developing exciting roles within practices for clinicians to work with commissioners to develop sustainable primary care services’.

Essex LMCs chief executive Dr Brian Balmer said that practices were struggling with recruitment and that general practice could ‘disappear’ in some areas, with residents of Frinton-on-Sea having only one permanent GP to serve more than 8,000 residents.

He said: ‘That area is struggling because several practices are very short on doctors, but they’re not alone. If we sit still, we think normal-type general practice is simply going to disappear in some areas.’

Dr Balmer said they were in talks with their local workforce partnership to get support to improve training and education.

He said:  ‘End of the month we’re hoping to get some support on this, from the Workforce Partnership – I mean real support, financial support. But it won’t be an instant solution.‘

Pulse revealed last year that practices across the country were finding it increasingly hard to recruit new GPs, with vacancy rates quadrupling in the past two years and as many as one position in 12 unfilled.


Readers' comments (63)

  • And Mr Hunt & Co. still thinks there is no recruitement crisis in general practice? This is only a tip of the iceburg.

    Mind you I also think salaried GPs has become unrealistic. Many partners (including myself) now earn less then a salaried GP per hour, and we do not enjoy protection of being an employee. We recently offered salary which will put salaried GP on par with us hour on hour on BMA contract (i.e. 13 weeks off/year!) and got turned down - apprantly he thought he should get more money.

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  • But of course according to Nhs England it is nothing to do with pay and conditions will the daily wail and the torygraph take responsibility for what is about to happen to primary care in the parts of the UK under Tory misrule

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  • No, the salaried doctors are not unrealistic. Partners are working for way below what they are worth.

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  • I hope NHS England have a lot of people to do this,reading th BMJ today there was 25 pages of GP salaried+partnership jobs.This is the worst I have seen it in a while.For anyone who is bothered there are 40 pages of opinion+education in the BMJ.GP vacancies were the bulk of the jobs section.Primary care is holed below the waterline and sinking fast.Sadly no matter how NHS england try to support us I feel it might be to little to late.

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  • Anonymous | 24 January 2014 7:19pm

    I feel sorry for colleagues who are partners BUT
    we are all getting a bad deal - please don't blame salaried docs or locums for this. blame the fact we are all being used as a political football.

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  • Sorry, I should have been clearer. I wasn't having a go at salaried GP sucking up for themselves. I was pointing out salaried service has not reduced their expectations in line with current primary care climate of reducing funding and increased work. I've spoken to several partners having the same thought and many said they would not contemplate employing a salaried GP now for this reason.

    But then no one wants to be a partner either.

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  • 8:14am I think what's actually happening is that most people (including salaried GPs) have indeed 'reduced their expectations in line with the current primary care climate'. In the case of salaried GPs, a large proportion of whom are fairly early on in their GP careers and represent what was to be the future work force, many are trying to find alternative careers and aren't prepared to be screwed over in a market place where there's an under supply of Drs. Increasingly the pool of people left holding the can (i.e partners) will be made up of those who either couldn't leave because of commitments, wouldn't leave because of a calling to serve, or could leave but are too bow beaten and weak...or maybe some who genuinely feel everything gonna be just fine!

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  • Its a little bit silly to expect salaried doctors to devalue themselves. They take into account the market by that little thing called Defence fees, which gives us an immediate valuation of the risk we take when we practice. This valuation is likely to increase dramatically as partners take on greater work. There is a real danger for partner who have planned to sell on practice assets as their get out will be left with nothing. If your contract does not leave a viable practice, who in their right mind will take it over. We've been turned down by 2 large finance groups who feel our practice is unsustainable. We cannot attract new partners and cannot afford salaried doctors. Three partners have requested retirement at same time and we are on the verge of disintegration, all because of lack of succession planning.

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  • it's not silly to expect readjustment at all. Most partners will not be prepared to pay the salaried GP more then they are earning (unless they have no choice to continue as partner e.g. have bought into practice and unable to sell on) as they themselves will be better off leavng the partnership and working as a salaried if they were to do this.

    Salary of the employed GP will be decided on market force of course. If the non principals don't reduce their expectation, there will eventually be less and less practice who can afford their service and the market may collapse.

    If we are all in it together, the only sustainable way for primary care in uk is for either primary care to fight for increase in funding (unlikely to achieve this i'm afraid) or salaried service to take the reduction as partners has been doing (which already is happening).

    p.s. before anyone gets smart, I'm fully aware many will be on permanent contract. I'm talking about the non pincipals as a group, rather then individuals.

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  • I feel we should stay calm and hang on in there until the election labour do not want to see the disintegration of the nhs and will improve pay and conditions the Tories on the other hand have the opposite view and have proved it time and time again in the 30 years I have been a doctor we need to tell our patients the truth we see over a million a day save the nhs crush the Tories and by the way I used to support the Tories until this lot got in

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