Newsletter May 2024

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At long last it feels like Spring is in the air. Though at the surgery we still seem to be dealing with lots of Winter coughs and colds. Additionally, we have the latest concern with some cases of Whooping Cough in Nottinghamshire. Fortunately, this remains a rare illness in well-vaccinated populations (which we are) but does have very distinctive symptoms. So, if you are concerned, please contact us.

This month I ask the question – ‘Why can’t I see my GP’? We are very aware that the practice appointments are under severe strain with our poor receptionists (unfairly) bearing the brunt of complaint. Unfortunately, and as previously highlighted, much of the problems are national and outside our control. The recently published book of this title by GP author Dr Ellen Welch discusses this issue in some depth and considers the ‘Past, Present and Future of General Practice’. It’s a sobering read. Statistics show that GP surgeries are busier than ever, offering more appointments but dealing with an increasing deluge of complex medical problems moved now out of hospital care. Additionally, and not unreasonably, patients seek care when they feel unwell and should be able to contact their GP at such times. The problem is the GP workforce is saturated.

The British Medical Association has now issued guidance on safe working which suggests a cap on daily patient contacts which we have implemented. Staggeringly the recently published report on long term health workforce planning predicts a 49% rise in consultants but just a 4% rise in GP numbers by 2036. This is in the context of currently falling GP numbers, and as previously highlighted, the challenge that new money coming into GP is via Primary Care Networks and specifically can’t be spent on more GPs! Last month the practice budget received an uplift of just 1.9% so there is no extra resource there to be spent on more staff. Predictably GP morale is at a low ebb with a recent survey of GPs in training showing that only 17% felt positive about their future prospects in the UK.

Unfortunately, many of the problems behind these statistics are political. Where money is spent and how much is largely a political decision. Words are cheap and easy, meaningful action is expensive and can be difficult. It feels like presently the proverbial can is being kicked down the street (along with social care and much else) but with an election imminent, perhaps change is in the air. I would encourage all our patients to consider how they feel about the NHS in the coming months. We only have to look to NHS dentistry to see how a service can be eroded to the point of vanishing (as many are finding to their cost). Thank you for bearing with us at such difficult times.   

Finally, this month we welcome several new faces. Drs Tom Purwar, Salman Hussain and Greg Brown plus Amanda Collins in our Dispensary. We say fond farewell to Dr Chris Powell.