GPs leaving profession early due to patient overload, Northamptonshire doctors’ group says

Dr Peter Medcalf
Dr Peter Medcalf

Early retirement of exhausted GPs and recruitment problems are leading to a crisis in general practice in Northamptonshire, a doctors’ group has warned.

A report earlier this week said Northamptonshire needs more than 180 new GPs in the next five years as patients told a watchdog of the difficulty of getting convenient appointments.

The Local Medical Committee, which is a board representing county GPs, has responded by not only agreeing but saying the problem is getting worse.

Recruitment in the East Midlands, it says, ranks among the worst in the country.

And GPs are generally more eager to leave because of massive - and increasing - workloads imposed by the NHS and booming populations that come without equivalent uplifts in money to help them cope.

Peter Medcalf, a GP at Abington Medical Centre and vice chair of the LMC said: “We’re working harder and more intensely than ever before.

“It’s not healthy for patients and it’s not healthy for us and I think we’re reaching a bit of a crisis.

“The work, caring for the patient in front of you is still great, just the system is very difficult.

“There comes a point when you can’t take on more and more and that’s what we are seeing with older GPs.”

Although simplistic, the LMC believes a simple injection of funding is the solution (although patients using out-of-hours doctors and pharmacists when appropriate would help).

However simply paying GPs more to open longer would only result in stretching doctors to breaking point.

Mr Medcalf said: “It’s not about putting a GP behind a desk, you have to have the correct hospital department open so you can send them blood tests, you need nurses and pharmacists too.

“So you need more money for more GPs, yes, but the resources have to be across the board or it doesn’t work.”