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GP SURGERIES : Closures / Amalgamations : GP Shortages And Government Targets / Waiting Times : Sector News - Carers UK Forum

GP SURGERIES : Closures / Amalgamations : GP Shortages And Government Targets / Waiting Times : Sector News

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
An interesting one from today's Guardian ... I did suggest a two horse race a few months ago ... between GP surgeries closing and food banks opening ... who would win by the numbers ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... ly-doctors

Why are so many GPs shutting up shop ?

Brighton and Hove has lost a quarter of its surgeries in two years, as pressure on the primary care sector takes its toll on family doctors across the country

Ridgeway will be the eighth GP practice in Brighton and Hove to close since February 2015. The local health watchdog estimates that up to a quarter of the city’s surgeries have shut since 2015, with more than 33,500 patients being forced to change GPs during that time. David Liley, chief officer of Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, says: “We have a situation where growing demand is being met by fewer people. We’ve heard of people who have had to change GPs not once, not twice, but three times.”

Brighton and Hove’s clinical commissioning group says: “It’s mainly due to the rising demand on services and the challenges being faced with recruitment and retaining GPs. This pressure is particularly felt in small single-GP practices and, of the eight recent closures, five had patient lists that were relatively small in number.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health says: “We are continuing to back primary care services, with 5,000 more doctors in general practice by 2020.” But there are doubts that the targets are achievable, with 3,000 new GPs due to be recruited mainly from mainland Europe. “Brexit is causing many European doctors to have second thoughts about coming to the UK,” says Vautrey. “They need reassurance, we know that Brexit is causing them concern.”
NHS to spend £100m bringing in up to 3,000 GPs from abroad
Read more

Back in Woodingdean, residents do not blame the two Ridgeway doctors for shutting up shop after 17 years at the practice. One is retiring and the surgery was unable to continue as a single-handed operation. But there is a sense of being messed around by a system that is bordering on dysfunctional. “People just panicked and they didn’t know what to do,” says Bobby Dalby, aged 78. “I think the whole thing has been handled badly by the NHS.”

Plenty of real meat in this one , worth reading in full .... especially if you are seeing the same on your manor.

Plenty of comments in the usual section , one at random from someone actually at ground zero :

I worked as a locum at Whitehawk road practice shortly before leaving the UK.

I was the sole doctor there for a roughly 5000 patient list, plus home visits alone in an area with high levels of drug addiction.

When I arrived there was a receptionist and an instruction book for the computer software.

There didn't appear to be a practice manager, presumably because it was one of the practices managed at arms length either by the PCT or a larger business.

I was told there was a nurse but they were not there the days I was.

It was a well maintained, friendly appearing place, but who would stay to work there ?

It was as far as I could see completely unsupported on the ground in an area with huge social deprivation issues.

You were never going to be able to hit government targets, leaving the practice chronically underfunded.

For this, as a sole partner, your salary would be at the bottom of the scale while GPs in group practices in 'nice' areas would have a quarter the stress for twice the salary or more.

Food banks ... or GP surgeries ... the bet is still on.

Bookies are offering 4-5 on each , and cannot split the two.

Whichever wins , it will be a devastating result ?


A little irony .... ?

What would be the effect on GP surgeries IF low millions of carers played by the " Unofficial " Rule Book ?

Stopped being unpaid doctors and nurses themselves , and referred their caree to the local surgery on every occasion ?

Guilty as charged many times over during my stretch .... how about you ... ???

An average nurse receives , on average , 10 times more than an average carer receives in Carers Pittance.

A doctor ? Around 30 times.

And yet , at times , who are the REAL professionals ???
We are living in a phase of "Pass the Buck" which extends across the whole of all businesses and professions. We need to stop looking abroad for doctors who are not properly trained any way!. this is why the UK have a very serious medical situation concerning so called doctors. If you look at most hospital and count the foreign doctors compared to the true English trained doctors, the ratio is very high towards the foreign doctors. When foreign doctors come to work in the UK it is most likely that they come to get experience not to work as a professional. How many doctors entering the UK to work are independently checked for qualifications, or don't we care any more?.

The system in the UK is to blame for this for letting it happen. It has now got that bad, that it has spread like a epidemic because the foreign doctors are taken the money out of the NHS, which is struggling to finance the service anyway. This will continue to draw funds away from crucially needed services.

We are talking about the CARE profession not an overnight way of making a fortune. I hope that BREXIT does stop nontrained doctors coming to the UK and I hope it stops other similar situations.
Even more disturbing article allied to the first posting ... National Health Executive web site :

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/ ... istration-

Half of GP leads considering closing patient registration.

More than half of GP service leads in England would consider temporarily suspending new patient registration to focus on delivering safe care to patients already registered, a survey released today has revealed.

The BMA surveyed 1,870 GP practices in England to gauge whether funding, workload and staffing pressures were leading bosses to consider suspending new patient registration in order to protect safety.

The results showed that 54% would consider this, whilst 44% also added that they would be in favour of applying for a formal and permanent list closure from NHS England.

It shows that rapidly growing demand for services and understaffing in general practice could soon have a directly negative impact on patient safety as people will struggle to find a GP that is capable of accommodating new patients.

“The fact that even a single surgery has reached the point where it would consider a suspension of new patient registration or closing its patient list fully shows that government promises to rescue GP services have failed to materialise,” Dr Richard Vaultrey, BMA GP committee chair, stated.

“Despite the hard work of GPs, nurses and practice staff, many GP practices are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients coming through their doors because of a lack of necessary funding and widespread staff shortages.”

A third of GP practices also informed the BMA that they have vacancies that have gone unfilled for 12 months, whilst nine out of 10 have described their workload as often unmanageable.

“This is placing an intolerable pressure on local GP services, especially as they increasingly need to deliver intensive, specialist care in the community to the growing number of older patients with complex health conditions,” Dr Vaultrey continued.

“In recent years some GP practices under considerable pressure have already taken the step of suspending their practice list in order to maintain patient safety.

“The government needs to understand that this landmark survey sounds a clear warning signal from GPs that cannot be ignored, and that the workload, recruitment and funding crisis in general practice must be addressed with far more vigour and commitment.”

The chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, argued that it was bad news that a measure as extreme as this was even being considered by doctors.

“No practice would ever consider closing their list to new patients if they were not seriously concerned about their ability to cope with their increasing workload and deliver care to patients safely,” she said.

“The RCGP has shown numerous times over the last few years that nowadays, UK family doctors making 60 patient contacts a day is commonplace – and that they are routinely working intensive 11-hour plus days in clinic.

“GPs who are fatigued are more likely to make mistakes – so these working conditions are potentially a risk to our patients’ safety.

“The results of this survey are a call for help,” she concluded. “We need the pledges in NHS England’s GP Forward View – including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full-time equivalent GPs – delivered in full, and as a matter of urgency.”

Another one which will smoulder on ... before catching fire ?
GP surgeries in decline ... and new doctors seem to be in short supply :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/healt ... 67151.html

Jeremy Hunt's GP recruitment pledge in tatters as 1,000 full-time NHS doctors quit last year.

Government is 1,200 doctors further from its target to recruiting an extra 5,000 GPs, set in 2015.

The NHS has lost the equivalent of 1,000 full-time GPs in the past year as "unbearable" workload pressures and funding shortfalls drive out doctors.

The figures – which contradict a pledge from the Health Secretary to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 – have been described as "gravely concerning" by doctors' leaders, who warn that the shortage will lead to increased waiting times at surgeries already struggling to cope with over-subscribed patient lists. They also come as the Chancellor faces mounting pressure to hand over more cash to the health service in Wednesday's Budget, with NHS boss Simon Stevens making an unprecedented plea for extra money earlier this month.

While there are around 41,324 doctors working in general practice, 500 fewer than two years ago, the pressures of the job mean they are increasingly working less than the NHS definition of “full-time”, opting instead for freelance work.

The Department of Health said more GP trainees are in the pipeline, and it has plans to allow GPs to work flexibly, but there has been a steady decline in GP numbers since March 2016. The latest provisional figures show no sign of this slowing.

Despite £20,000 incentives to attract trainees and attempts to hold on to senior staff, the NHS is now 1,200 GPs further away from its target of recruiting an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 than when it was first set by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in September 2015.

The Department of Health baseline at that time was 34,592 full-time GPs, but two years on the September 2017 figures show overall numbers stand at 33,302.

But this overall total also includes GPs in training and the growing proportion of GPs working freelance or part-time as locums to better control their workload.

A footnote from NHS Digital warns this overall figure is artificially inflated by changes in how numbers are reported, which saw 300 extra GPs added overnight.

“The subsequently higher GP locum numbers reported in March 2017 are not comparable to previous figures in the time series due to indications that this additional guidance has led to more accurate reporting of GP locum staff,” NHS Digital says.

The biggest decrease has been among GP partners, who make up the bulk of the workforce, falling from 21,937 in 2015 to 20,234 this September.

This is offset slightly by an increase of around 300 full-time equivalent salaried GPs, who are employed by practices on permanent contracts, and locums.

Locums can earn significant amounts with many practices struggling to fill vacancies, and they are able to book their work which makes it a popular for GPs with families or those looking to take on other “portfolio” roles.

A study earlier this year found almost half of GPs were planning to quit or cut down their hours amid warnings of “perilously low morale”.

The steady decline in numbers shows these fears are being borne out, and this summer the NHS announced it was resorting to recruiting as many as 3,000 GPs from Europe to fill the gaps.

GP representatives from the British Medical Association told The Independent the continued decline was “not a surprise” because, despite the pledged funding increases, “this is just not reaching practices”.

Perhaps the Government should set easier targets ?

Simply paint a bullseye on the forehead of each Minister ???

Or , for some , on their back ???
Pressure on GPs increasing ... dangers to public health ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... gps-leader

Family doctors working 'beyond safe levels', says GPs' leader.

As doctors describe dealing with up to 70 patients a day, college warns of risks to public health.

GPs across Britain are working above safe levels because of relentless and unmanageable workloads, leading doctors have warned.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said that family doctors were “regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients”, potentially jeopardising their own health and wellbeing.

Her comments were made in response to a survey by GP magazine Pulse. It heard from 900 GPs across the UK and found that each deals with 41 patients a day. The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), a leading forum of European family doctors, has said that seeing around 25 patients is safe.

The Pulse poll found that one in five family doctors (20%) deal with 50 daily patient contacts, which include face-to-face and telephone consultations, home visits and e-consultations. Some GPs told Pulse they have 70 contacts a day.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs expect to be busy, and we are making more consultations than ever before as we strive to deliver the best possible care to all our patients who need it. But the workload at the moment is relentless and it’s taking its toll.”

One doctor, who reluctantly left a career carrying out 13- to 14-hour days as a partner for a more manageable workload as a salaried GP and 31 to 40 daily contacts, told Pulse: “I felt I was at a risk of making mistakes and causing potential harm to my patients and my career.”

Another spoke of one exceptional “horrendous” Monday where he had 71 contacts. Since then the practice has since increased the number of on-call doctors on Mondays to three.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said the survey backed up what the college has been saying for years – that many GPs are regularly working way beyond what could be considered safe for patients.

It was not necessarily the number of consultations, but the content of those consultations, she added. “Our patients are increasingly presenting with more complex, chronic conditions, many of which require much longer than the standard 10-minute appointment,” she said.

“Our workload needs to be addressed – it has risen at least 16% over the last seven years,” she added. “Yet the share of the overall NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association general practitioners committee chair, said: “We know that an unmanageable and unsafe workload is the primary reason behind doctors leaving general practice, which is leading to serious issues including practices closing to new patients and other surgeries closing entirely. This workload pressure also means GPs are increasingly suffering from burnout and patients are being put at risk of unsafe care.”

He urged the government to work with the BMA to come up with a longterm solution “to ensure the needs of a growing population with increasingly complex conditions can be met safely on the front line”.

Patients’ groups and MPs also expressed concern at the findings. Liz McAnulty, chair of the Patients Association, said: “We have gone past the point where efficiencies can be found, and firmly into territory where GPs’ workloads are unsustainable and where patients face growing waits to access GPs and greater risks to their safety.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Royal College’s warning should serve as an urgent wake-up call to ministers. “The truth is, since 2010 years of severe underfunding of our NHS has left general practice squeezed with tired, overworked and overstretched GPs. We have lost 1,000 GPs in the past year.”

Creaking , groaning , straining but ... not breaking ?

That wind , isn't it getting louder ?
In the news again , this time the knock on effect of amalgamations and closures :

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/heal ... 74916.html

More than a million patients have had to change GP due to local surgeries closures.

Elderly patients find it 'very, very difficult' to cope with travel to new surgeries after the closure of their local branch.

More than one million people have had to change their GP in the past five years because their local practice has been closed down or merged.

In the past five years as many as 1.3 million patients have been affected by hundreds of practice closures, which have resulted from a nationwide GP shortage and the loss of funding for smaller rural practices.

The government and NHS England have said that smaller practices are no longer fit for purpose, and group practices, working together or merging into one entity, can cut back office costs and provide better care.

A new analysis, published today by Pulse magazine, the publication for GPs, has shown how this has resulted in a steady increase in the number of surgeries shutting down, with 445 closures between 2013 and 2017.

There were 134 closures affecting around 458,295 patients in 2017, compared to 37,000 patients displaced across 18 practice closures five years ago, and the average size of practices shutting is increasing.

Health leaders said the findings would come as no surprise to patients who are increasingly facing long journeys to see their GP, or to practices struggling to attract doctors to rural areas.

Osler House surgery in Harlow, Essex, was closed last month without consultation, and despite fierce campaigning by local residents, many of them elderly, who will now have to travel miles to a new GP.

“According to our MP, he got a letter from West Essex CCG saying we were the dearest in the country – I can’t believe that,” Connie Scott, 90, told The Independent.

Ms Scott, who celebrated her milestone birthday earlier this month, has been with the surgery since it opened on her street in 1955, and just weeks before its closure she had been attending meetings for a new site.

“We fought tooth and nail to keep it open,” she told The Independent. “I’m not an angry lady, truly I’m not, but I’m so angry these last few months it’s almost made me feel ill.”

Ms Scott and the other 3,300 patients were informed in February that Osler House would close at the end of April and told to register with one of five practices in the town.

Her closest option would involve two bus journeys each way to get there. The practice she has now registered with is further away and involves a single bus trip but with waits of 40 minutes between buses.

“I’m lucky I’m a fit old lady really, I’ve had new knees and I’ve got my health problems – of course – but there are an awful lot of people that are finding it very, very difficult.”

Just over half of the closures reported by Pulse are the result of mergers.

These may be a proactive effort to work more efficiently, but often occur out of necessity with one practice stepping in to keep services going after another partnership gives up their NHS contract and closes smaller sites.

In Brighton nine practices have closed in a little over three years, and the average number of patients with each practice in the city has risen from 6,900 to 8,700.

Dr Robert Mockett, who retired from his partnership three years ago to drop down to work one day a week at Lewes Prison and one day in general practice, told Pulse the workload “has gone through the roof”.

In Folkestone, Kent, 5,000 patients were left without a GP when their practice closed and the town’s remaining surgeries were too busy to take on new patients.

The practices have now been pressured into opening their lists despite being overstretched, and local GP Dr Brighton Chireka said the situation was a “time bomb”.

Pulse obtained the national picture for closures through freedom of information act requests to local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), and estimated list sizes in some cases where these were not provided.

However, it says its tally is likely an underestimate as some CCGs refused to provide details.

“These new figures will resonate with the experience of GPs across the country as the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice is impacting practices of all sizes and all situations,” said Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee.

“Practices in rural and coastal regions, where the distance from large cities becomes a major obstacle in drawing in new recruits, have been particularly badly hit,” he added.

NHS England announced last year a plan to recruit up to 3,000 GPs from overseas to help bolster the NHS’s ranks, and the government has pledged to increase full-time GP numbers by 5,000 by 2020 – though it is 1,000 GPs further away than when it started.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “More than 3,000 GP practices have received extra support thanks to a £27m investment over the past two years, and there are plans to help hundreds more this year.

“NHS England is beginning to reverse historic underinvestment with an extra £2.4bn going into general practices each year by 2021, a 14 per cent rise in real terms.”

Turn the clock back some 30 years.

Major supermarket chains.

Takeovers / closure of smaller stores / opening of out of town warehouses.

Fast forward to the present day.

Any similarity ?

Irony ?

Those in need of a gp are , most probably , just one step away from needing NHS treatment.

And yet , being able to see a gp , and to visit them , is becoming harder.

Logical ???
Just gets better and better ?

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 76266.html

Shortage of GPs set to worsen with number of doctors planning to leave profession at 'all-time high.'

Almost two in five are likely to quit direct patient care within five years.

The shortage in GPs is set to worsen as the number who plan to leave the profession in the next five years is at an “all-time high”, a report warns.

A national survey of family doctors found that almost two in five are likely to quit direct patient care within five years.

Researchers said the findings, which are the highest since the National GP Worklife Survey began, were “particularly worrying” due to the possible implications for recruitment, retention and patient care.

The figures come after it emerged that more than a million patients have been forced to look for a new GP in the past five years after their surgery closed or merged.

Pulse magazine found that between 2013 and 2017 a total of 445 GP practices shut their doors due to closures or mergers, affecting more than a million patients.

Recruitment, retention and funding issues were cited as reasons behind some of the closures.

The latest survey, published by experts at the University of Manchester, found that a large proportion of younger GPs expect to quit or change roles in the next five years.

Among GPs under 50, 13 per cent said there was a considerable or high likelihood of leaving direct patient care within five years.

Among GPs of all ages, 39 per cent of respondents indicated that there was a considerable or high likelihood that they would quit within five years – up from 35 per cent in 2015.

It is the ninth survey of GPs in England which covers all aspects of a GP’s working life, including satisfaction with various aspects of their work, sources of pressure at work and their future working intentions.

The latest poll, which included data from almost 2,000 GPs, found overall job satisfaction increased slightly between 2015 and 2017.

But the researchers said levels of satisfaction in 2015 were the lowest since 2001.

Respondents reported most stress with “increasing workloads”, “having insufficient time to do the job justice”, “paperwork” and “changes to meet requirements from external bodies”.

Nine out of 10 GPs reported experiencing considerable or high pressure from “increasing workloads”.

Professor Kath Checkland, who led the study, said: “The all-time high figure of 39 per cent of GPs who say they intend to quit within five years is particularly worrying in terms of the possible implications it might have on recruitment, retention and patient care.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s incredibly worrying to hear that so many GPs are thinking about leaving the profession within the next five years, but it certainly isn’t surprising, given the intense pressures family doctors are facing.

“Pressures in general practice have reached an all-time high; our workload has escalated by at least 16 per cent over the past seven years, but the share of the NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago. GP numbers are actually falling, and many hard-working GPs are simply burnt-out and exhausted.”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “GPs are a vital part of the NHS and we recognise the everyday pressures they face – that’s why we’re increasing investment by £2.4bn a year by 2021 and recruiting 5,000 new doctors into general practice.”

Don't panic ... just a survey after all.

Fast forward a mere 5 years ... 2013 ... what will a modern gp surgery actually feel like ?


A little too extreme ?

After all , there is that " Hippocratic Oath " to consider ?

There again , if there is another 10k available " 'Round the corner " ... washed through the usual laundrette to remove the tax ... in a PRIVATE facility , what price said Oath ?
From this morning's edition of the Yorkie Times :

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/ca ... -1-9198235

Call for investment to halt hundreds of GP surgery closures.

Milions of people will have to find a new GP practice unless the Government provides urgent investment to halt surgery closures, leading doctors have warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents family doctors, said more than 600 GP practices in England will be lost by 2022 if funding is not increased.

The BMA said it analysed official figures which showed that due to closure and mergers, the total number of practices had fallen by 963 since 2010.

If the trend continues, England is set to lose between 618 and 777 practices between now and 2022, according to the analysis.

The BMA has appealed directly to Prime Minister Theresa May to address “historic underfunding” of general practice as a long-term funding plan for the NHS is drawn up.

Leeds-based Dr Richard Vautrey, the BMA’s GP Committee Chairman, said: “We have seen the devastating effect of practice closures over the last few years, with more than a million patients displaced since 20133, and now this analysis paints an even bleaker picture for the future.

“Patients already face unacceptably long waits for appointments, and without urgent government action and significantly more investment this will only get worse as millions more are left without a practice and struggling to find a new one.”

The BMA has also raised fears of GPs choosing to leave the profession due to rising workloads and stress levels.

Dr Vautrey said: “As GPs face the mounting pressures of increased demand, unmanageable workloads and lack of resources, more and more are leaving the profession or handing back their contracts.

“At the same time, too many medical school graduates are seeing the situation unfold in general practice and understandably choosing other specialities.”

The BMA’s figures come from its newly-released analysis of NHS England’s GP Forward View, which was published two years ago.

The Government has pledged to invest an extra £2.4bn a year into general practice by 2021 and recruit an additional 5,000 doctors.

A mirror image of today's excuse for a high street ?

My thoughts are with the millions , through disability and / or lack of finances , forced now to travel greater distances in order to see a doctor ... after how many days / weeks waiting ???
An article from the Hull Daily Mail following the gist of this thead ... this time , with a human aspect :

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/he ... le-1656885

Three Hull surgeries up for sale - but the way staff found out has prompted an apology.

NHS bosses have apologised to staff after putting 'for sale' boards up outside three surgeries - before telling workers their plans to sell off the buildings.

Employees at Victoria House in Park Road, the West End centre in Hessle Road, and Hallgate Surgery in Cottingham received an apology email from Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust after it installed "for sale" signs before letting staff know the sites were being sold.

In an email, addressed to staff of all three buildings, a spokesman said: "We would like to apologise to staff at Victoria House, West End and Hallgate Surgery for installing 'for sale' boards outside these buildings before letting you know this was planned.

"We had intended to hold separate briefings with each staff group to advise you that this was due to take place; however, on this occasion, the installation preceded the briefing which, although not deliberate, was a very unfortunate mistake.

"As some of you may know, Victoria House, West End and Hallgate surgery have been identified as surplus to the trust's requirements and are now part of the disposals section of the trust's estates strategy.

"That said, please be assured that we will not dispose of any of the properties without first having secured alternative accommodation for all of the services involved.

"Work is continuing to identify the alternative accommodation required and we will keep you up to date with our progress.

"Once again, we're sorry for our mistake and the upset caused, and pledge to work hard to prevent any repeat."

Earlier this week, the Mail published a story stating that Victoria House is up for sale, although it is understood that by the time for sale signs went up, employees had not yet been briefed.

It is still unknown where the surgeries will be moved to and whether staff and patients will be affected

Reminded me of a true case just over 50 years ago up the road in Norff Tottenham ( Bandit country , I was bred in Souff Tottenham ).

A " Notice to Demolition " sign appeared one morning in front of a row of houses.

Bewilderment all around , the Council had forgotten to send the occupiers notice of their intentions !!!

Some red faces on that morning , even more so a few months later when the occupiers successfully fought against the Demolition Order !
Yet another daming article on the GP sector ... this morning's Independent :

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/heal ... 33596.html

GP vacancies rise to record levels despite recruitment pledge, survey suggests.

Long patient waits and unsafe, rushed appointments are unlikely to end any time soon as vacancies have risen from 9.1 per cent to 15.3 per cent since the government pledged 5,000 more doctors.

A record 15.3 per cent of GP posts in the UK are unfilled, suggesting government pledges to address soaring waiting times for GP appointments by recruiting more thousands more doctors have fallen flat.

In England, which has 33,574 full-time GPs as of March 2018 according to NHS statistics, the figures show a vacancy rate of 15.8 per cent suggesting more than 6,000 full-time GP posts advertised and currently unfilled.

The data collected by the magazine for GPs, Pulse, in a survey of 660 UK family doctors follows reports of patients being told they can only book GP appointments for urgent conditions, amid millions finding it harder to see their GP.

The increasing pressure for appointments could well be explained by these growing vacancies. Unfilled posts increased from 12.2 per cent when the survey was conducted in 2017 and have risen by a third since 2015 – the year health secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged he would recruit 5,000 full-time GPs by 2020.

Mr Hunt is currently 6,000 GPs further away from that target than when he started, the latest official NHS data shows.

These waits and the pressures on fewer doctors to see more patients also pose a safety risk to patients, with some reports suggesting doctors are seeing three times the safe daily limit of patients.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, warned overstretched doctors were more prone to burnout and mistakes.

She said of the Pulse data: “Almost every surgery in England is now one GP short, at least, and the implications of this are very serious for the wellbeing of our GPs and wider practice teams, and for the provision of safe, high-quality patient care.”

NHS England said the survey conducted by Pulse accounted for just over one per cent of the 41,000 GPs in England and had not taken steps to ensure the data was representative of the population.

It said it has committed to training more GPs and launched a £100m scheme to recruit thousands from overseas to address the shortfall, as well as expanding the numbers of nurses, physiotherapists to work in practices.

However, the last official data from the NHS dates back to 2011 – when the vacancy rate was just 2.1 per cent.

Pulse’s 2012 survey recorded a vacancy rate of 4.2 per cent, and has reported a steady increase in staffing gaps in the past seven years.

“The Pulse survey, although it’s got some flaws and limitations, it does support the evidence we’ve got and what GPs across the country have expressed,” Professor Azeem Majeed a professor of primary care at Imperial College London, told The Independent.

“They put an advert out and no one replies in places like the East Midlands, Hull and the North East where it’s very difficult to recruit.”

“It also ties in with reports from patients who often now complain there is a wait of a few weeks to get an appointment with a GP,” he added.

Last year Professor Majeed published work in the British Medical Journal which suggested the 5,000 figure proposed by the government was half what was needed in 2015. More than 12,000 extra GPs would be needed under the current system if the NHS is to have a hope of bringing down waiting times for patients.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “With around 41,000 GPs working in England this self-selecting survey of 567 [English GP] responses represents a tiny and unrepresentative sample of a profession that is the bedrock of the NHS.

“Across England more than 3,000 GPs have entered training this year, 1,500 new medical school places are being made available and we are recruiting an extra 2,000 overseas doctors.

“At the same time, there are 3,900 more health professionals like nurses and pharmacists than two years ago, working alongside GPs and an additional £2.4bn every year by 2021.”

The report comes the day after the NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary for which Theresa May, the prime minister, pledged to increase its budget by £20bn in the next five years

Once again , the Government body , The NHS , are telling us one thing ... " Don't worry , everything is alright " ... and yet , what do we all see at ground zero ... local gp surgeries on your manor ?

A NATIONWIDE problem ... same can be said for nurses and teachers.

The answer is NOT just about pay ... conditions that they all have to operate in leave a lot to be desired ... especially in low income areas.

Here in Worksop , three weeks is the new norm for a gp appointment ... and still by telephone / visit as opposed to email / text !!!