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Under-pressure GP practice issues letter asking patients to ‘bear with us’

A GP practice has written to patients asking them to ‘bear with’ them, while they are doing their best to cope with the GP recruitment crisis.

Dr Mike Haugh, a partner at the Brunel Medical Practice in Torquay, Devon, explained to patients that the practice ‘constantly’ advertises for new GPs but ‘rarely receive any applications’.

He explained that the GPs who have remained after a number of recent retirements often work ‘12-14 hour days’ and went on to ask patients to do their bit to help by asking for telephone appointments and cancelling appointments they cannot make among other actions.

The letter said: ‘I am writing to you on behalf of the doctors and staff at Brunel about some of our current difficulties in providing a high quality and timely service to you. As you know, from various media, the NHS is experiencing great difficulty with the recruitment of GPs and nurses to work in primary care…

‘This situation is likely to continue for some time as very few new GPs finish their training, and each has an abundance of options. This is the new reality for general practice.’

Dr Haugh added that the practice was taking steps to try to continue to give the best service to patients, with the phone consultations being part of this.

He said: ‘We have tried to cope with growing demand by holding as many consultations as possible over the phone… We appreciate that this is less than ideal, but it is one of the few ways we are able to prioritise demand. So if a receptionist asks for a brief summary of your problem, this is so that the more urgent cases needing a fast response time can be highlighted to the doctor.’

He added: ‘We would appreciate if you could bear with us for the moment. We will continue to do our best but any help you could give us would be very much appreciated.’

The news comes as Pulse reported last week on figures indicating training programmes in some areas of England had struggled to fill half of places this year.