City faces GP shortage fear

Posted on August 3, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories |

Nottingham Evening Post | 3 August 2009

NOTTINGHAM could soon face a shortage of GPs – because so many are set to retire.

The city is expected to have just 40.3 family doctors per 100,000 residents in three years time, down from the current level of 46.7.

It is now considered the most “at risk” area in the East Midlands for doctor-to-patient ratio.

A leading GP insists there is a large number of new doctors ready to take their jobs on.

But primary care trust NHS Nottingham said it faced the challenge of keeping those doctors in the Nottingham area when they qualify.

Sarah Kirkwood, of NHS Nottingham City, said a “significant proportion” of GPs will be eligible to retire in the next few years.

She said there was a “bulge” in the number of overseas-qualified GPs aged between 55 to 70 who would be expected to leave the profession within five to 10 years.

Ms Kirkwood added: “Many of these are from single-handed practices, which will present a challenge both to them, to find suitable replacements, and for NHS Nottingham City, to plan effectively the mix of single-handed to group practices.

“It may not just be that straight replacement of general practitioners is the only solution.

“Nurse practitioners with enhanced skills, such as prescribing and triage, could be further increased as part of effective skill mix and who could enhance quality of care.

“It is therefore vital that workforce planning is co-coordinated and that it is a systematic process.”

She said Nottingham needed to ensure trainee GPs stayed in the city.

The problem was discussed at a meeting of NHS Nottingham City last week. A report said Nottingham was “under-doctored” and the 13th most-deprived UK population.

Of Nottingham’s 189 GPs, 22 are aged 56 to 60, 13 are 61 to 65 and a further six are aged 66 or over. Plans are already in place to increase the number of GP practices in Nottingham which offer training opportunities.

Almost £1m is going to be spent to ensure buildings in the city are equipped to train young doctors.

Two new GP practices in Bestwood and Bilborough, as well as a GP-led health centre in the city centre, are being planned. And bosses hope to increase the number of GP registrar training places in the East Midlands from 177 to 227 in the next three years.

Chris Locke, chief executive of the Notts Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs, admitted a “significant number” were nearing retirement.

But he said: “We have been here before in the past. The PCT seems to be saying it is going to be in dire straits. What they are ignoring is that there already a pool of GPs who are scratching around, who will be more than willing to take up any opportunity.”

robert.parsons@nottinghameveningpost.co.uk

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