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East Lancashire doctors face an age old problem
CONCERNS have been raised about the number of ‘ageing’ GPs in East Lancashire which could lead to a worrying shortage in the coming years.
Nearly a third of family doctors in the area are over 55, double the national average.
Mohammed Iqbal, deputy chairman of Lancashire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, raised the issue at a meeting and said he feared more patients would end up being treated by agency doctors from outside the area.
He said there were already ‘a number of surgeries where locums are coming in and patients aren’t seeing the same doctor from one week to the next’.
He wanted to know what measures were being taken by East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group to address the shortage.
Dr Mike Ions, chief clinical officer at the CCG, acknowledged it was a ‘major issue’, but said steps were being taken to support a number of GP training practices in the area.
He added: “We know if we train doctors locally they will want to stay in the area. We are now developing a primary care strategy and recruitment and retention is one of the main themes throughout that. It’s about making East Lancashire a really popular place to come and work.”
Dr Steve Griffin, of Berry Lane Medical Centre in Longridge, agreed there could soon be a ‘crisis’ in the East Lancashire and Preston areas.
The 49-year-old, whose surgery is a member of the Greater Preston CCG, added: “General practice isn’t the most popular profession at the moment. “There’s a lot of negativity out there with GPs being criticised by the government and so on.
“But I think if you look at the numbers, we are actually training more GPs than ever. “There’s just more demand out there now.
“We’ve got people living longer, there’s a multitude of new medicines and more paperwork to do so it’s harder than ever to manage the lists. “It has become quite a complex job.”
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