GPs in Cornwall, who ‘overwhelmed with’ their ‘increased workload’, are on the ‘brink of a crisis’, an LMC has warned.
Kernow LMC released a statement on Monday 20 September declaring the ‘very serious situation’.
Abnormally long waits for ambulance transfers from community settings to hospitals means that GPs are ‘having to manage acutely unwell patients in need of hospital care for longer’, it explained.
Due to ‘outpatient capacity issues’ at nearby hospitals, patients are waiting longer to be seen or reviewed, and so GPs are spending more time and appointments dealing with patient enquiries.
‘These issues are compounded by longstanding GP and practice nurse shortages after years of under-resourcing nationally,’ the statement said.
Dr Nick Rogers, Kernow LMC chair and a GP in Falmouth, called for ‘urgent support from our local health system partners to help manage demand, stabilise the workforce and release capacity for the emerging work associated with Covid-19 and flu and to find ways to plan ahead for crisis points.’
Dr Rogers added: ‘This is a very serious situation – but I would like to reassure patients that general practice in Cornwall is open, is seeing patients face to face and has been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and will continue to do so.
‘We are working as hard, fast and safely as possible to deliver the best outcomes for our patients, set against the challenges faced.’
In July, GPs in Cornwall delivered 326,570 appointments and 59% of patients were seen face-to-face in practices.
It comes as GPs practices in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland, are having to divert some of their calls to an urgent care service due to high demand.
NHS England this week said extra Covid resources for general practice for the second half of this financial year (October-March) is ‘to be confirmed’.
It comes amid escalating abuse from the public and in the media towards GPs and practice teams, prompting the BMA to hold an urgent meeting with the health secretary to discuss its concerns.