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More doctors needed to save GP surgeries

Friday 8th January 2016
New doctors are in high demand as GP surgeries struggle to cope with new patient lists. Image: iStock/monkeybusinessimages
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    More doctors are desperately needed to enable GP surgeries throughout the UK to provide the best level of care possible to their patients, according to a new report.

    The BBC has conducted an investigation into the state of GP practices in England, finding that many are close to breaking point due to ongoing staff shortages.

    A Freedom of Investigation request revealed that at least 100 surgeries applied to NHS England to ask if they could stop taking on new patients between 2014 and 2015, as they were unable to cope with demand for their services. Almost half (45 per cent) of these were denied permission, meaning the level of care they were able to provide was potentially compromised.

    What's more, a total of 299 GP surgeries had posted on their websites that they would not be taking on extra patients for the foreseeable future as of November 2015.

    While it is not always safe for GP practices to operate with too few doctors, this does mean that patients' health could be compromised if they are ill and cannot register with a GP. As a result, they may find themselves visiting their local accident and emergency department instead, but this only places the NHS under even more pressure.

    Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, explained to the BBC: "The news that such a large number of practices have closed their lists to new patients is extremely worrying for patients and will mean even more will struggle to get the care they need."

    Clacton-on-Sea in Essex is one particular area that has been struggling and has high demand for new doctors, with three out of four of the town's GP surgeries no longer taking on new patients. Ranworth Surgery has even offered a bonus of £9,500 to any new doctors in an extra bid to attract applicants, after its new patients list reached almost 9,000, making conditions unsafe.

    Written by James Puckle

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