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GPs in London more stretched than rest of UK, claims trade union

The number of patients per GP is higher in London than the rest of the UK, despite far greater demand for training placements in the capital, a new report has revealed.

Research commissioned by the trade union Unite found that London has one GP per 1,576 people, compared with a national norm of one GP per 1,441 people.

This is despite an oversubscription for training places in the capital, which last year saw 3.7 applicants for each training place in the capital, compared with an average of 1.6 outside of London.  

Unite also found that, in a quarter of London CCG areas, more than 20% of GPs are aged 60 or over.

It called on Health Education England to develop a strategy with the city’s three local education and training boards to increase the number of GPs in the capital.

The report, London’s NHS at the crossroads, found ‘an unravelling of services as the NHS becomes more fragmented and financially squeezed’ in the capital and called the creation of an overarching health authority to oversee strategy among London’s 32 CCGs.

It said: ‘We recommend the creation of a new type of London Strategic Health Authority, on a model which does not replicate the former structure of NHS London, but which encompasses a democratic element, possibly with involvement of the Greater London Assembly, London boroughs and CCGs.’

It also argued that ‘different levels of care’ are currently being commissioned by adjacent CCGs, leading to ‘unequal treatment of patients on the same ward’, including support for new mothers who are breastfeeding.

London GP Dr Louise Irvine, who is on BMA Council, was an advisor for the report.