Media statement - GP workforce issues
Media statement – Exeter University research on GP workforce issues in the South West
12 April 2017
Dr Bruce Hughes, Chair of Devon Local Medical Committee, which represents and supports GPs in the county, said: “The research reaffirms the significant challenges our grassroots GPs and practices face every day as they strive to deliver high quality patient care.
“Like elsewhere in the country, local GPs are grappling with heavy workloads which have already reached a tipping point.
“There simply aren’t enough GPs to deal with the anticipated further rising demand due to a lack of entrants into the profession, retirements, those choosing to leave through burnout or disillusionment, or who have reduced their hours or moved abroad for a better work-life balance.
“The situation is likely to get worse as many GPs may become overwhelmed due to the anticipated increase in demand as a knock-on effect of community hospital bed closures earmarked in Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). These plans currently lack robust medical cover arrangements and as such in my opinion are not currently credible. Our problems may be exacerbated further by the recent national announcement to commit more GPs to work in A&Es.
“General practice has reached a pivotal point and LMCs like ourselves are increasingly stepping in to support practices with mergers, working at scale, and resilience measures to address some of these issues.
“The profession can no longer function on the dedication and goodwill of GPs who are already running on empty and who year after year suffer further setbacks with respect to increasing demand and bureaucracy and reductions in workforce and available resources.
“Nationally, swift and decisive action is needed to release significant resources, bolster a diminishing workforce and remove bureaucracy. Locally, STP leaders need to engage more closely with LMCs, recognise that we are the statutory representatives of general practice, and listen and act on our concerns and ideas before plans are implemented.
“Patients are our number one priority and it is testament to our local GPs and practices that despite the challenges they face, they are graded among the best in the country by the Care Quality Commission for their quality and standards of care.”