A recent survey from British Medical Association (BMA) has shown that 31% of GP partners in England have been unable to fulfil staff vacancies in the past twelve months.
Almost a third of GP partners replying to the association’s GP survey confessed that they had had to put up with vacancies, having not been able to hire staff over the long period. The BMA survey also found that only one in eight said they had had no vacancies to fill, while one in five GP partners said their practice taking between three to six months to hire staff to vacant posts.
The areas with the highest levels of unfilled vacancies include the east of England and the west midlands, each at 35%.
The chair of the BMA General Practitioners Committee (GPC), Chaand Nagpaul said the survey result is deeply concerning that many GP partners are reporting that their practices effectively have permanent holes in their workforce, which they are unable to fill. Only few number of GP practices are operating with no vacancies, while the huge majority of GP services are suffering from constant shortages of GPs.
He further added that due to the staff crisis general practice is being kept afloat by the essential support of locums who are stepping in to deliver day-to-day services to patients. All these chronic shortages come despite government promises to recruit 5,000 more GPs, a pledge that has failed to happen.
Zoe Norris, GP trainees subcommittee chair said thousands of GPs across the England choose a career as a salaried or Locum GP, which is a positive choice. However, the government should not be blind to the point that Locum and salaried GP are getting the same pressures that are threatening all of general practice.
National Health Service (NHS) England and the government need to realise that they cannot continue to rely on burnt-out grassroots GPs to provide a service that is under threat of collapse, she added.
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