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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)

  • good comments guys. Food for thought for the youngsters.. I am just completing my GP training...

    My immediate options are to locum..
    lets say at 100£/hr (as the pulse advertises 320£ session) at 40 hour weeks is £208,000... assuming you don't want to work more... with a good accountant you could prob take home 150000...

    Or move to the Aussie, Cananda, NZ, Ireland ( make about 150000£) or if you wanted to do the USMLE and
    make considerably more... and consider the cost of life... i.e. cananda/usa.... is half if not 3/4 cheaper to live in...

    my point is doctoring is an international market... if the situation is so toxic in one place you will have people leaving... I read 25% of matriculating GP's are leaving right away...

    any arguments on staying in England? and becoming a partner?

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  • Una Coales

    Bob, European GPs enjoy the EU loophole and are exempt from PLAB testing and UK GP VTS. They can come over and start work as a NHS GP and are all too happy to accept salaried GP posts as pay here is significantly higher than pay back home. Unfortunately we cannot vouch for the standards of training in all 28 EU countries as they do not need MRCGP to work here, unlike our own home grown graduates and IMGs.

    I am reminded of the 1996 RCGP Chair of Council, 'The examination for Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) has been considered as the instrument of assessment, but its standard is for excellence rather than minimum competence. The college believes that, while “in time it will be usual for new principals to hold the MRCGP, it should not be mandatory for entry to NHS general practice” (W M Styles, statement of chairman of council 1996).

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  • Bob Hodges

    Thanks for pointing that our Una.

    The practicalities of the job do however present a barrier to immigrants from the EU who haven't trained here however.

    The Byzantine was the NHS is set up, with pathways for pathways, local guidance and national guidance at odds, ever changes referral routes and the al encompassing social work side of the job make it difficult to seriosly consider CVs sent from the EU.

    I like you, would prefer to offer a job/partnership to an Indian origin doctor that's put in the graft in the UK as a junior already any day of the week...and I have done so. I share you concerns re the way that the CSA has treated these some doctors.

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  • Bob 2:07pm
    So funny!
    Pray do tell us why you became a partner then.
    Oh let me guess you got a pay rise!!!!!!!!!
    Maths was always my strong point.

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  • Ivan, with all due respect, to label GPs on this site as "moaning" because of the state of primary care and the NHS, is insulting to say the least.

    There are many pros and cons to working as a GP in this country....but the cons are increasingly winning. To disregard the anxieties and concerns about pay, condtitions and recruitment as "moaning" does little for the cause.

    The "moaning" serves to heighten awareness, stimulate debate and seek solutions. We are not yet at the stage of learned helplessness where we sit back and accept things that we think we have no influence over.

    You clearly have an agenda of 12/7 working and the end of ICS. Thankfully, you are in the minority at present and let's hope it stays that way.

    It is hard to preach to the coal face when you are not stoking the flames.

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  • Bob Hodges

    I became a partner because I wanted more control over the way I work. Time that I was using to earn additional 'portfolio career' money as a Forensic Medical Examiner previously was no longer available to me as a result of being a partner, so in fact my total income went down slightly. My days are also 2 hours longer as a partner which is 8 hours a week and the equivalent of 2 locum sessions.

    My partners paid me well as a salaried doctor, and I hope I exceeded what was expected of me in my cotract, but being a partner is a whole different ball game.

    Don't underestimate the power of control over the way you work - locums often cite that as their rationale. I like being a 'regular GP' and providing continuity of care. I'm also on the LMC and a locality commissioner now which I really enjoy (and provide influence over my how we work) and couldn't have really done without partner experience.

    I wouldn't got back to being salried or a locum by choice. If you want a partnership in a good practice there are plenty available if you know where to look. Lots aren't even being advertised - speak to your local LMC.

    If you want to work harder for the same or less then don't.

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  • Anon 1:56,

    Lets do some maths shall we?
    My income is just over £100k which is little higher then average I believe.
    Take out 14% employer contribution to pension (as you would not pay this as a employee) 100K x (1-0.14) = 86K
    Take out locum insurance (ditto) at 1.5k = 84.5k

    Now, equate this to hour's pay/year.
    I work 52 hours/week on average, 7 weeks holiday. So 52 x (52-7) = 2340 hours/week

    So 84.5k/2340 = £36/hour (pre-tax, pre-employee pension, pre-expenditure, pre-indemnity)

    Now, recent article in Pulse suggests average pay for salaried GP has dropped to £40/hour (but this has not been correlated for holiday/CPD entilement so in effect actual pay/hour worked would be alot higher).

    Still think Partners are getting paid more then the salaried GP?

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  • Bob Hodges

    Including the employer's 14%, I DEFINATELY took a pay cut to become a partner.

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  • Bob Hodges

    I definitely can't spell either after 11.5 hours at work.

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  • Partners make more, otherwise they would become salaried. End of..... ex-partner, ex-locum, ex-salaried and now in oz - loving it!

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