GP workforce issues threaten to overwhelm primary care in Cornwall, the LMC chair has warned the public in an open letter.
Dr Nick Rogers, the LMC’s new chair, wrote: “The LMC is supporting increasing numbers of GP practices and GPs across Cornwall with issues like resilience, workforce and workload.
“The LMC is calling for urgent support from our local health system partners to help manage demand, stabilise the workforce and release capacity for the emerging work associated with Covid-19 and flu and to find ways to plan ahead for crisis points.”
Across Cornwall in July, GPs provided 326,570 appointments and 59% of patients were seen face to face in GP surgeries.
Dr Rogers also referenced the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)’s call for an emergency rescue package for general practice.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, GP locum and chair of NASGP, said: “It is deeply worrying when a part of the country reports struggling with GP workforce issues, and is a pertinent reminder of the problems we and our patients are all facing across the UK.
“In every respect, local LMCs are the organisations that have their ears to the ground, and their concerns should always be taken very seriously. At the initial outbreak of the pandemic, GPs displayed remarkable agility in the way we responded to a highly infectious virus, but the threat has completely changed to now being overwhelmed by a backlog of chronic disease, that we are expected to manage with less resources than we had going into the original pandemic.
“Any innovative solutions that enable GPs to remotely support colleagues in struggling areas must themselves support that remote workforce’s resilience and workload, and NASGP is already working with GPs in the West Country to enable GPs outside the area to support their practices remotely.”
NHS England responded to the letter, published Monday 20 September, by publishing a planning document on Thursday 30 September that announced ‘continued investment’ in GP capacity and access for the latter half of 2021/22 (October to March).