A Haslingden doctor has opened up about the “stressful” reality of being a GP after an open letter was sent to politicians.

Recently, GPs in the North West sent a letter to political party leaders stating that general practice “is broken”, adding that there aren’t enough doctors to treat patients.

It also says GPs are “subjected to unbearable working conditions, experiencing anxiety, stress and depression in record numbers.”

Lancashire Telegraph:  Doctor Abdul Mannan Doctor Abdul Mannan (Image: Doctor Abdul Mannan)

Doctor Abdul Mannan, who manages Hazelvalley Family Practice in Haslingden, is urging political leaders to take the letter seriously adding that he has noticed a decline in how GPs are treated.

He said: “I have noticed a decline in how GPs have been treated. There is always an onslaught on GPs in the media.”

Doctor Mannan said the number of appointments offered at his practice has soared by 18 per cent but the funding and resources have not increased.

He said: “As a GP practice the number of appointments we offer has gone up 18 per cent.

"We are offering more appointments each year but we have fewer resources compared to pre-pandemic times.

“The government might lift the overall funding pot by a few per cent but [it is not a lot when you look at inflation].

“We gave staff a four per cent pay rise last year. If you look at the amount of stress staff take on it is understandable why staff come to you and ask for more money. These guys take on a lot of risk and responsibility.”

Doctor Mannan said he has also been left to battle with rising energy costs.

He said: “My electric and gas bills have gone up by around 150 per cent.

“The cost of everything has gone up by crazy amounts. In real terms, practices are having to deal with a 20 per cent increase of everything.”

Doctor Mannan says he has to pay for some bills out of his own pocket and has taken a pay cut for the last seven years.

He said: “I would be lying if I was in top shape because I am not. I do worry because I employ 26 staff here and if anything were to happen that responsibility is on me. I have taken a pay cut for the last seven or eight years.

“If my practice went [bankrupt] and there isn’t a solution for my staff I may have to sell my house to pay for staff.

“It does mentally affect you. I am lucky to finish each working day by half six each night.

“We recently had to convert one of our toilets into a consulting room because we are that desperate for space and we can’t get any money. I had to spend my own money on this conversion.”

He says we may risk losing young GPs, who may choose to work abroad where pay is higher and the working day is shorter.

Doctor Mannan said: “My nephew is qualifying as a GP. He is applying to other countries where he is guaranteed more pay with less overheads and concerns.

“The lifestyle is also better and he won’t be working until seven or eight at night like I am.”

He hopes the letter from GPs is taken seriously adding that we need to “hold on to the NHS” for as long as we can.

He said: “I hope the letter is taken seriously. It’s hard to count the number of people GPs keep healthy in the community [in order to keep them out of hospital with serious injuries].

"Prevention is the most important thing in healthcare in order to stop people ending up in hospital.

“If primary care falls in the UK you are going to end up like other counties, where it becomes really expensive and people might not get the right care.

“We need to hold on to what we have and it is one of the best things the UK introduced to the whole world and the UK needs to hold on to it for as long as they can.”

GPs are asking leaders to respond to the letter ahead of releasing their manifestos. The letter has been signed by 67 per cent of local medical committees (LMCs), the local bodies that represent every GP in Great Britain.

The open letter stresses the importance of fixing the problems in general practice in order to save the wider NHS from collapsing. 

The letter said: “As the very bedrock of the health service if general practice fails, the entire NHS fails.

“As expert generalists, we know our patients best and we can diagnose what other professionals cannot.

“Without a concerted effort to rebuild our services, the entire NHS will crumble under the weight of unsustainable pressure.” 

 It also points to a decade of political neglect and chronic underfunding which has caused the current crisis, stating that patients as well as GPs are suffering as a result.  

The letter calls for plans to retain the GP workforce, fairer funding and greater autonomy and freedom for GPs to do their jobs.