Peterborough and Cambridgeshire has biggest shortage of GPs in the country, union claims

Peterborough and Cambridgeshire has the biggest shortfall of GPs in the country, according to the Trades Union Congress.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 3:48 pm

The umbrella organisation for 48 unions said the county is short of 178 GPs to be able to provide a “high quality service”.

Its figures come from calculating the number of GPs to the average recommended by the British Medical Association of 1,600 patients by GP.

In Peterborough and Cambridgeshire that figure is 2,244 which is not the highest figure nationally, but because it is a large county it will take more GPs to make up the shortfall than other, smaller, areas.

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The report comes two months after Peterborough was described by the Care Quality Commission as having the lowest percentage of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ GP practices in the country.

TUC regional secretary Sam Gurney said: “Our hardworking and overstretched GPs are working tirelessly to help patients, but there are simply not enough of them to keep up with demand.

“As a result waiting times are increasing and patients are not getting the treatments they need on time. And family doctors are stressed and overwhelmed.

“The next government must put working families first, invest in our NHS and boost GP numbers.”

According to the TUC, the percentage of full-time equivalent GPs in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire has fallen by nine per cent since 2015, compared to an eight per cent fall in patients over the same period.

It said doctors’ leaders say the average number of patients GPs should have on their list is 1,600 in order to provide a high-quality service, but that in September this year the average number of patients per GP nationally was 2,100.

In the East of England GPs have more than 2,200 patients on their list.

With demand on GP surgeries increasing unions say an additional 9,000 doctors – around 800 in the East of England – are needed to run services at the right level.

The average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks, according to the TUC.

Dr Ian Hume, GP and deputy chair of the BMA East of England Regional Council, said: “The BMA has highlighted time and time again that we simply do not have enough GPs to meet demand and guarantee safe, quality care to patients. And as doctors stretch themselves more thinly, they risk their own health and wellbeing.

“While election promises to boost GP numbers are necessary and encouraging, politicians must learn from mistakes of the past.

“This means both encouraging more young doctors to choose general practice, while retaining those talented and experienced GPs that work tirelessly in their communities every day. It also means tackling unsustainable workloads and mounting bureaucracy, while scrapping damaging pension rules that are causing so many doctors to reduce their hours or leave the profession all together.”

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, which is in charge of GP services in the county, declined to comment due to it being the pre-election purdah period.