Doctors warn of strain on GP surgeries - The Stratford Observer

Doctors warn of strain on GP surgeries

Stratford Editorial 7th Aug, 2014 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016   0

GP surgeries across South Warwickshire are at breaking point claim doctors.

A total of 87 general practitioners from across the county have spoken out and made a desperate plea for increased government support.

In an open letter – also signed by 48 nurses and 61 practice staff – they say surgeries are under unsustainable pressure from a rising workload and reduced funding.

They said: “We are unable to cope with the current pressure on the health service, and understand entirely why our patients are becoming frustrated at the lack of appointments and delays getting the treatment they need.

“Demand is continuing to rise but the Government has failed to provide the support that local GP practices need to offer their patients the time and care they require.”

The group say the number of GP consultations has risen dramatically in the past six years and they are spending more time with each patient because of an increase in complex and chronic illnesses.

They believe this has had a knock-on effect on GP recruitment with newly-qualified doctors no longer choosing general practice as a career.

But despite these changes, the proportion of NHS funding spent on general practice has fallen by nearly three per cent in the six years.

They added: “We are reaching an incredibly important moment for general practice. We can either face up to the realities facing GPs and make plans now to meet the growing challenges – or we can bury our heads in the sand and watch this key part of the NHS slide into permanent decline.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said changes to the way GPs were paid would free up their time to provide care by removing excessive performance targets.

They added changes were being made to modernise surgeries including greater use of telephone, email and video consultations, as well as more flexible appointment times.

A copy of the letter was sent to Warwickshire’s six MPs.

Stratford MP, Nadhim Zahawi, acknowledged the challenges facing GPs and welcomed the new measures.

He said: “In managing the health budget, NHS England’s job is to look at the costs faced by the NHS as a whole, so changes to the proportion of spending on GPs will reflect costs rising relatively faster elsewhere in the service.

“This underlines the importance of dealing with our debts, so that we can continue to afford the NHS that Warwickshire deserves.”

Healthwatch Warwickshire, an independent consumer champion, said it would support calls for more GPs and practice staff to meet the growing demands of an ageing population.

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