GPs demand 'immediate action' as Hunt pledges workforce review

GP leaders have demanded 'immediate action' to tackle the workforce crisis, after the health secretary announced plans for an independent review of GP numbers that will run until next summer.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: immediate action to support GP workforce (Photo: JH Lancy)

Speaking at the RCGP conference in Harrogate on Thursday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt acknowledged the shortage of GPs.

He announced that Health Education England would lead an independent study of what was needed in terms of GP workforce, area by area, across the country.

Video: Jeremy Hunt's RCGP speech in full

But GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that although it was ‘encouraging’ to hear Mr Hunt recognise the shortage of GPs, the profession needed ‘urgent action now’.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘We would be happy to work collaboratively with the independent review to ensure that we get accurate, reliable figures on the numbers of GPs we need to both cope with the current and future patient demand.

‘However, while we await the review, we have an urgent need to address the fact that GP practices are currently at breaking point trying to cope with rising patient demand, falling resources, a shortage of GPs and policymakers’ desire to move more work into the community.
‘We need urgent action now to manage escalating demand on GP practices, and offer tangible support to practices.’

Review must plan ahead

Dr Nagpaul pointed warned the review must factor in the impact of work moving out of hospitals, ageing populations and plans to extend GP opening hours.

‘We must plan for a GP workforce based on future requirements, not just to stand still today,’ he said.

‘The workforce trend currently is heading in the opposite direction - general practice is also failing to attract new recruits because of the real pressures it is under, with more than 400 training posts left vacant this year and seven out of 10 GPs telling a recent BMA survey they were considering early retirement.’

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