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Improving GP Recruitment Rates Now ‘Matter of Urgency’, Warns RCGP

On 12th May 2017, the Royal College of GPs (RCPG) has stated that the current rate of GP recruitment and retention must be significantly improved “as a matter of urgency”.

The chair of RCPG, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, issued the message in light of the upcoming general election, which offers a chance to reach targets set out in the GP Forward View.

NHS Digital revealed its findings in March, which showed that despite the targets to recruit additional 5,000 GPs by 2021, numbers had actually fallen in the last quarter of 2016. The RCGP called for immediate action to stop the mass “haemorrhaging” of doctors numbers that was putting patient safety at risk.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that the RCGP understand that practices across the nation are finding it really difficult to recruit GPs to fill empty posts, and the degree to which this problem has increased over the last 6 years is shocking. In most of the severe cases, not being able to employee has forced practices to close, and this can be a harmful experience for the patients and staff affected, and the wider National Health Service (NHS).

She further added that the workload in general practice is escalating. According to the latest research, the workload has increased 16 per cent over the last 7 years. Still the investment in GP service has steadily declined over the last decade and the number of GPs has not increased in step with patient demand.

The RCGP has also launched its ‘Six Steps for Safer General Practice’ manifesto for the next government, which urges to deliver the GP Forward View in full, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

The college said that the Scottish Government 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% share of the NHS Scotland budget on an yearly basis from 2021. Other points raised for Scotland include additional funding for GPs in the most deprived areas and IT improvements.

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