LANCASHIRE doctors have called for urgent action to tackle a workforce ‘crisis’, after a new report highlighted the dwindling number of GPs in training.
The GP Taskforce report, published by Health Education England, found GP recruitment has been ‘stubbornly low’ for the last four years, while many family doctors are approaching retirement age.
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The problem is particularly acute in East Lancashire, where nearly a third of GPs are over the age of 55, which is double the national average.
Dr David Wrigley, who represents Lancashire GPs on the British Medical Association, said ministers would need to invest more cash in general practice, to make the job more attractive to young medics.
He added: “Following persistent pressure from the BMA, we are pleased that at long last the GP taskforce report that was finalised in March has been published.
“We have reached a serious crisis point where not enough GPs are being recruited and too many are retiring early. There is no longer any time to waste and the government needs to implement the findings of this report in full and begin a programme of sustained, long term investment in the GP workforce as the BMA has called for.”
Dr Paul Fourie, of Witton Medical Centre in Blackburn, said some GPs were looking to take early retirement due to ‘burnout’ from increasing workloads. Changes to NHS funding and GP pensions also mean doctors are ‘working harder than ever, for longer hours and for less money’, he added.
Health commissioners in East Lancashire have acknowledged there is a ‘major issue’, but insist steps are being taken to support a number of GP training practices in the area.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We know GPs are working under pressure which is why we have cut GPs’ targets to free up time with patients and are increasing trainees so that GP numbers continue to grow faster than the population.”