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Practices offered £400k emergency fund to ease GP shortage

Exclusive Practices in Essex have been offered a share of a £400k fire-fighting fund after health education chiefs stepped in to help fight the GP recruitment crisis now engulfing the region.

Health Education England (HEE) said it is planning to invest an additional £250,000 in 2014/15 to the £150,000 it provided in 2013/14 to hire locums and increase practice nurse numbers.

Pulse revealed in January that the crisis in the region has seen one permanent GP having to serve more than 8,000 residents in one area in the north-east of the county.

Local leaders and HEE chiefs have said the money will be used in the short term for locum doctors and training nurse practitioners, while longer-term measures include recruitment, return to practice and retention schemes, education and training, practice development support and workforce planning across primary care.

In addition, the LMC has said NHS England local area teams and CCGs in Essex are also ‘looking at making their own contributions’ to help ease the shortage, with increasing GP numbers and practice staff set out as the most urgent priorities.

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.

Essex LMCs chief executive Dr Brian Balmer warned in January 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.

Rob Bowman, the managing director of HEE’s local team, Essex Workforce Partnership, said it was working together with the local area team, all seven Essex CCGs - led by NHS North East Essex CCG - and the LMC on an Essex-wide approach to supporting primary care.

He said: ‘This is a priority area for the Essex system and one that all parties acknowledge need this support.’

‘The Essex work is being developed to respond to local needs – taking a short and longer term view of the issues to be addressed and the appropriate actions - but is also in the context of East of England wide and indeed national approaches to primary care.’

‘Our initial focus is on GPs and practice staff but will extend to include the whole primary care workforce.’

Dr Balmer said: ‘It is early days but we have identified funding from our workforce partnership… and we are hoping for contributions from area teams and CCGs but it is difficult to nail them down.’

‘We have early plans for what we will prioritise, what we are wanting to get on with quickly, and it will be support for sessional and locum doctors and nurse apprenticeships to start training up more practice nurses.’

Pulse revealed in January that NHS England was stepping in to help amid the Essex GP shortage.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Essex; land of TOWIE, Birds of a Feather, flash cars, sun tans, loadsamoney and stiletto heals. It's hardly the end of the earth is it? I think general practice has a major problem on its hands if we cannot recruit to the prosperous south-east.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I feel sorry for partners in Essex, but otherwise I can only rejoice to see that the meltdown has started; just not quite where one would expect. Mind you, Marx never thought the Proletarian Revolution would start in a place like Russia!

    DOI- Marxist.
    (Groucho, that is)

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  • John, you are clearly a very angry man!
    I don't blame you as it is clear that the last 25 years of dedication and hard work have been swept away.
    Like you I resigned my partnership and my life is enormously better in every way. I have a better work life balance and more time to live my life.
    Those left need sympathy and support, and need to understand that we have resigned in order to force a change for the better. Let's hope it has been successful.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    11:01 Yup! I am a FRCGOG

    Fellow of the Royal College of Grumpy Old Gits

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  • Is it just recruitment crisis or deliberate non recruitment due to reasons known to the independent contractors-there are many examples in Thurrock and Basildon where the practices are not recruiting and waiting for someone from the family to qualify-there are large practices at the same time recruiting young GPs successfully-is it the mentality of not sharing money with new recruits????????

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  • unfortunately, the sums of money being 'injected' will be entirely insufficient. It does, however, reflect once again, the lack of regard for primary care and the real cost crisis we are facing at a time of ever increasing demand and secondary to primary care shift.

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  • Is the problem in Essex one of lack of locums or unaffordability?
    And why is the funding coming from a training (HEE) budget when funding locums is not a training issue?
    "Local leaders and HEE chiefs have said the money will be used in the short term for locum doctors and training nurse practitioners, while longer-term measures include recruitment, return to practice and retention schemes, education and training, practice development support and workforce planning across primary care."
    Training nurse practitioners might be considered part of HEE's remit: is the rest?

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  • Meanwhile cut pensions, MPIG, pay, QOF pay,etc Allow practices to go bankrupt.
    And complain about trouble recruiting.
    Are we living in a banana republic ? Is this really the land of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose. What does your brother make of all this, Mary? Sorry, don't distract him from Black hole radiation.

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  • So when practices have to remove patients because they cannot cope, and all practices start to do the same, what happens to those patients that are live in an areas where all GP's have closed lists?

    GP bashing has become a craze but surely the real problem is that there are too many patients for any GP to manage safely, no matter how fantastic the GP's may be?

    GP bashing leaves GP's feeling exhausted and undervalued, so what happens when their health becomes a risk and patients start to ask, are they safe to practice?

    If we treated out GP's with the respect they deserve, stopped telling them the correct way a patient should 'scratch an itch' and paid them what they worth, perhaps more more folk would consider becoming doctors and bridge the gap.
    Most doctors are very highly trained professional people who want to care fro the sick, not naughty schoolchildren that need to be told how to perform.

    GP bashing needs to stop now!

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