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Practice publishes note to patients explaining why GPs are demoralised

A south London GP practice has published a note to patients on their website and in their waiting rooms explaining that why it is sometimes difficult to get a GP appointment due to the pressures that GPs are facing.

Under the headline ‘Why your GP is facing a crisis’, the website for Vassall Medical Centre in Brixton in south London provides patients with a long list of issues facing general practice to help them understand the pressure surgeries are under.

The note, which was inspired by the BMA’s campaigning to help cut GP workload and also quotes a number of Pulse articles on GP waiting times, retention and recruitment, said doctor workload has increased by 20% while the general practice budget has stayed the same.

It said the result was ‘GPs turning away patients’ and that ‘because of this more people are going straight to A&E for treatment’.

The note further explained how GPs are getting burnt out with the workload, with many taking early retirement and one in seven GPs wanting to leave the UK, while the next generation of doctors ‘don’t want to be GPs’.

It finished: ‘In conclusion: ‘Doctors have to see more people – they’re only going to get busier. They’re getting demoralised and leaving the profession. There’s no money to employ more of them; and even if the money was there, there’s a shortage of qualified people. The recruitment shortage is only making things worse for the GPs still remaining. A lack of GPs is costing the NHS money, because sending everyone to A&E is much more expensive.’

On NHS Choices, 88% of patients rated the their experience of getting an appointment at the Vassall Medical Centre as good or very good, compared with the national average of 73.8% in the latest national patient survey statistics.

Dr Di Aitken, a GP at the practice, said: ‘In general, we have a very good relationship with our patients at Vassall Medical Centre, and good levels of access that can get stretched at holiday/winter time. Our patient feedback is good and we try to get keep good lines of communication and continuity with patients and families.’

Practice manager Beera Patel said they have shared the information note not just on the website but are also displaying it in the reception area and have discussed it at their patient group meetings.

She said: ‘This is quite informative for patients because they don’t have this information at all. It gives them some idea of how the system actually works and why they may have had to wait. I think to read it, and having this explained, it has made a lot of sense to them.’