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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.