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Practices warned not to stockpile locums during ‘surge’ in shortage of GPs

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Dr Sam Dawlatly

Dr Samir Dawlatly imagines a scenario in which GP shortages lead to stockpiling attempts

Practices say they are struggling to obtain many common GPs including sessional GPs and partners. This is leaving patients complaining of delays in getting hold of appointments and practices paying over the odds for locums. Pulse has found there has been a big rise in the number of health care professionals on the ’shortage of supply’ list for England.

There are a number of reasons why this has happened, but there are now concerns that uncertainty over Brexit will only make the situation worse. The RCGP said there was ’a massive shortage and price spikes’. There is concern that this could affect some practices’ ability to deliver services, and cost the NHS more.

Practices and patients in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also appear to be experiencing similar shortages.

Stephanie, who has fibromyalgia – a condition which causes pain all over the body – and hypermobility, wasn’t able to get the anti-inflammatory appointment from her practice in December. Instead, she was given a telephone call which didn’t have the same effect.

’I was in floods of tears with the pain – it was awful,’ she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

’It makes a massive difference in my condition.’

Without the appointment, Stephanie’s inflammation increased to the point where she dislocated her thumb.

’It’s difficult to explain how hard it is to deal with, suffering from chronic pain.’

Stephanie has experienced her GPs being out of stock before, but they usually reappear reasonably quickly.

This time, that hasn’t happened.

The best advice is to make sure you get appointment requests to your practice in good time.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ’We continue to work closely with industry and partners to ensure patients receive the appointments they need and practices are reimbursed fairly.’

The Government has told manufacturers of both branded and generic GP to stockpile six weeks’ worth of sessions, so that people would still get their appointments if we have a no-deal Brexit.

Federations, practices and patients have been told not to stockpile their own GPs.

’Shortages have been a problem for some years. It’s a fluctuating problem. They are now worse than ever,’ said former Liberal Democrat MP Sandra Gilby. Potential supply problems because of Brexit have led to Health Education England being asked to keep a ’buffer stock’, Ms Gilby told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ’We have not seen any evidence of current GP appointment supply issues linked to EU exit preparations.’

With apologies to the BBC for appopriation of its original article: Pharmacists warn of a ‘surge’ in shortage of common medicines

Dr Samir Dawlatly is a GP in Birmingham