Portsmouth worst in the country for patients per GP as demand for services 'skyrocket'

A SHORTAGE of doctors has seen Portsmouth have the highest rate of patients to GPs in the entire country, new figures have revealed.

By Richard Lemmer
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 4:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 6:04 pm

According to figures from healthcare charity The Nuffield Trust, the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area has 2,483 patients for every GP.

It leaves Portsmouth at the bottom of the board when it comes to patients per GP.

Hull CCG performs slightly better with 2,481 patients for every GP, while Liverpool CCG performs best nationally with a GP for every 1,333 patients.

Portsmouth has fewer GPs per patient than any other part of the country.

It comes as demand for doctors’ appointments has risen sharply over the course of the pandemic, according to Linda Stead, who is the operations director for the GP-lead Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance, which coordinates GP surgeries’ out of hours and home visiting services.

She said: ‘What I have noticed is how difficult it is to staff our shifts and how few GPs there are.

‘The demand without any question is rocketing. Our activity levels have gone up 25 per cent in the last year.

‘We are without a shadow of a doubt a lot busier and have been for a very long time.’

Leader of the council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 050522-56)

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The University Surgery, in The Nuffield Centre, St Michael's Road, is one of the busiest surgeries in the city, as it contends with 5,965 patients per GP – a total 17,498 patients and the full-time equivalent of 2.9 GPs.

A recruitment drive to bring more GPs to city is ‘absolutely’ needed, according to Linda.

She added: ‘We are looking at how we can become a very attractive employer and get people to come to the city.

‘My locum pool is very stable – once they work here, they want to stay and don’t want to go anywhere else.’

Portsmouth City Council may look at hiring GPs directly to help meet the need, according to council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

The Liberal Democrat politician said: ‘I have had a lot of people complain to me about not being able to get GP appointments.

‘We take this incredibly seriously but it's a government issue and we need to know why there's a postcode lottery for healthcare in this country. We are getting a rough deal in Portsmouth.

‘Pharmacists in Scotland and Wales can issue prescriptions - could we be a pilot area for England?

‘Could we also look at the council directly employing GPs? This would mean they wouldn't have to buy-in to any practice partnership which may be more attractive to many.’

Cllr Matthew Winnington added: ‘We call on the government to support us with a national workforce plan, additional funding and greater support for trainees.’

The Portsmouth CCG is currently looking at a attracting a range of healthcare workers– including pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists, and dieticians –to work in the city’s surgeries, according to Dr Linda Collie, Clinical Lead for the organisation.

Dr Collie said: ‘We're introducing a number of other healthcare professionals at GP practices to offer specialist support to patients, and working closely with the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance to make the best use of our healthcare workforce across the city and attract more GPs to train and work in Portsmouth.’

Last month, Lake Road Practice and Sunnyside Medical Centre announced they will unite later this year in a new deal to pool clinical expertise and resources across both sites.