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GP vacancies to outnumber practices in deprived area

GP practices in inner-city and south Bristol are on course to have more GP vacancies than GP practices within the next year, a CCG survey has revealed.

The NHS Bristol CCG fact-finding exercise also identified a shortage of nurses and administrative staff across the 19 practices, which are currently 13 full-time GPs short but expecting this number to grow to 23 by this time next year.

The LMC told us that half of all positions weill be vacant in some practices. 

Dr Barbara Compitus, chair of South Bristol LMC, said:  ‘I think Bristol, like every other part of the country, is having difficulty in recruitment and retention of GPs. The local CCG decided to quantify it by undertaking a survey of 19 practices in South Bristol

‘For five practices, the vacancy rate will be nearly 50% of their GP workforce – by next year.

‘I think the main way the sessions are being covered is by locums… the skill mix I think is good, but there is an increase in wait times for patients for their appointments.’

Dr Shaba Nabi, Avon LMC member and Bristol GP, said the severe recruitment crisis is threatening to force local GP practice closures in the deprived area.

She said: ‘There are recruitment problems in the inner city and the south, the most deprived areas of Bristol. The same practices in the south and the inner city also lost out in the recent PMS review and are suffering from hikes in service fees by PropCo. This is making many of these practices untenable

‘NHS England has a choice to make – to help struggling practices or to let them fold and enter into a caretaker arrangement which will end up costing a huge amount of money and will damage patient care.’

In a bid to address the ongoing crisis in GP recruitment, NHS England is offering up to £12,000 in funding to incentivise GP returners to work in practices that have been unable to fill vacancies for more than 12 months.