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Increase in number of family doctors in Bucks

But, we still have fewer GPs per head than average

Published by Mix96 News at 11:56am 15th May 2019. 4-minute read.

Increase in number of family doctors in Bucks

The number of family doctors in Buckinghamshire has increased in recent years, though the area still has fewer than average GPs per head.

Recent reports show that GP numbers have fallen across the UK over the last five years, with doctors warning that they are seeing more patients than they think is safe.

NHS Digital data shows there was the equivalent of 314 full-time GPs in the NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group in December 2018.

It means there were an estimated 58 GPs for every 100,000 people in the CCG's area– less than the England average of 62.

It is, however, a significant increase on the number of GPs when the NHS first published comparable data, in September 2015 – there were 277 in the area at the time.

An analysis by the Nuffield Trust for the BBC found that the number of GPs per 100,000 people across the UK has fallen, from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year – the first sustained fall of this kind since the late 1960s.

Another study by Pulse magazine found that over-tired doctors were sometimes seeing twice as many patients as they should.

It meant that GPs were struggling to be sympathetic to the patients they were seeing during appointments.

The Pulse poll of 1,681 GPs for BBC's Panorama found that they are working an average 11-hour day, including eight hours of clinical care and three hours of admin.

On average, each GP dealt with 41 patients per day, despite saying 30 was a safe number.

One in 10 dealt with 60 or more patients – double the safe limit.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said she is one of those affected by heavy workloads.

She said:

"In my own practice recently, I had a 12-hour day and 100 patient contacts.

"GPs across the UK will tell similar stories."

Professor Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the RCGP, said there is a risked tired GPs could make mistakes, and high numbers of patients added to this.

She said:

"You could miss a result or misread a letter, or you don't focus on the right symptom or ask the right question."

A report in March from the King's Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation predicted that GP shortages in England will almost triple to 7,000 by 2023-24.

It said the Government would miss its target to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 and the only way to cope with the growing workload was to put more pharmacists and physiotherapists into GP practices.

NHS Buckinghamshire CCG told us:

"We are glad to see that GP numbers have increased in Buckinghamshire in recent years, and NHS Buckinghamshire CCG continues to support practices as they work to recruit and retain GPs.
"This issue is a challenge currently faced by practices up and down the country.

"However, General Practice is no longer just about the traditional GP service.

"As vital as GPs are, we need to be using other healthcare professionals to support them where appropriate, allowing us to build care around patients themselves rather than the existing services.

"For example, this can mean paramedics attending home visits, pharmacists undertaking medication reviews or Practice Nurses holding minor illness clinics and managing patients with long-term conditions.

"This approach allows us to respond more effectively to the individual, often complex, needs of our patients while we continue to attract GPs to Bucks."

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