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Dr Ildiko Spelt: ‘We are getting exhausted’

I am the only partner for just under 8,000 patients at our practice. We are near Clacton-on-Sea, which is a small seaside town and a pretty area, but it has become so difficult to recruit GPs here.

We have advertised for more than a year yet we’ve only had one applicant through normal channels, who then changed her mind. Candidates are able to shop around because of the recruitment crisis.

This situation has affected me financially because of the very high prices I have to pay for locum doctors. We are spending more money on locums so we have less money to recruit permanent GPs. It is a vicious circle.

We also earn money through ticking boxes for the QOF, and locums are not able or interested to do this in the same way as permanent staff do, so we are losing money here as well. Locums also don’t give our patients continuity of care.

The result of this is that the volume of work per doctor has become much higher, so we are getting exhausted. The number of home visits has increased, and we are working under a lot of pressure. We have a large number of elderly patients with chronic illnesses who need a lot of medical attention.

We are lucky as we have finally managed to get an agreement with a doctor who worked with us in the past as a locum, but I can see that it is difficult to find GPs everywhere.

I think the reason is that general practice is transforming – in my eyes, going downhill. New doctors are turning to other specialties and I don’t blame them.

Dr Ildiko Spelt is a GP in Clacton, Essex