‘More needs to be done to recruit and retain GPs’

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HEAVY workload is forcing many of our GPs to retire early or leave the profession, the local medical committee has said.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, delivered a warning to the government yesterday that GP services are at breaking point.

In a local survey, 35 per cent of GPs questioned said that they are planning to retire from the profession within the next year due to the workload. And 75 per cent say there has been a GP vacancy in their practice in the past year.

It comes a week after The News revealed many surgeries in Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire are under pressure, with one practice in Portsmouth having 3,382 patients per GP.

Dr Nigel Watson is the chief executive of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight local medical committee.

He said: ‘There is a problem with recruitment and retention. In our area, 20 per cent of GPs are saying they will leave the profession or retire in the next two years.

‘There aren’t enough GPs being trained to replace them because we can’t get good GPs. When the trainees finish, less than 50 per cent of them are going to join a practice. Many of them are going abroad.

‘There is no doubt that we are struggling to recruit new GPs and older GPs are leaving. It’s a real problem. We need to do something fairly significant.’

Dr Nagpaul said funding cuts and intense workload pressures are threatening services to patients and putting the viability of many GP practices at risk.

‘Part of the problem is the complexity of what we are doing,’ said Dr Watson.

‘We are making potentially life -changing decisions.

‘We have got a high number of elderly people living in the community, which is good that we are living longer and staying healthier.

‘But these patients are high users of health and social care and that causes a problem if we aren’t able to deal with it.

‘We need to put more resources into the community to meet the needs of the patients. There are 40,000 GPs in the country and we need another 5,000-10,000.’