Fix “staggering” GP vacancy problem, says RCGP

THOUSANDS more GPs must be recruited and the status of EU doctors protected to help address the “staggering” GP vacancy problem, the RCGP have said.

Speaking ahead of the June 8 general election, they also called on the government to deliver the £2.4 billion of investment in general practice in England as promised in last April’s GP Forward View report.

The College also reiterated its call for GP specialty training to be extended from three to four years, “long-term measures” to reduce indemnity costs, and the introduction of a national “return to practice” scheme to boost practice clinical staff recruitment.

The demands are set out in the RCGP’s election manifesto for England, Six Steps for Safer General Practice.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “We know that practices across the country are finding it really difficult to recruit GPs to fill vacant posts, and the degree to which this problem has increased over the last six years is staggering.

“In the most severe cases, not being able to recruit has forced practices to close, and this can be a devastating experience for the patients and staff affected, and the wider NHS.”

She cited research figures suggesting GP workload has increased 16 per cent in the last seven years, while investment has declined.

“This must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she added.

Similar calls were made in the College’s manifestos for the other three UK nations.

Their document for Scotland highlighted the projected shortfall of 828 GPs by 2021 and said the government “must facilitate the delivery of sufficient numbers of GPs to overcome it.” The College also want a National GPs Performers List to be implemented as soon as possible and “bureaucracy reduced” to allow the free movement of GPs across the UK.

The Scottish Government, the College said, must deliver the £500 million of funding promised by the First Minister for GP practices and health centres. This should give general practice an 11 per cent share of the NHS Scotland budget on an annual basis from 2021.

Other points raised for Scotland include IT improvements and extra funding for GPs in the most deprived areas.

Read the RCGP manifestos on their website

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