Long-term GP vacancies still running at 22 per cent, new survey finds

21st June 2024 by NASGP

Long-term GP vacancies still running at 22 per cent, new survey finds

Some 22% of GPs said they had at least one GP vacancy which had been open for more than three months at their practice, the Royal College of GPs has reported in its first vacancy survey in two years.

Long-term GP vacancies have halved from 44% in 2022, but never the less, practices continue to struggle for doctors.

The survey also found that six in 10 GPs found it ‘moderately difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to find an appropriate vacancy to apply for in the past year.

GPs face a tough working environment with poor funding. Earlier this year in a ballot of GPs in England, over 99% voted to reject the GP contract proposed by the then-Government for 2024/25.

Earlier this month data showed that GPs in areas where NASGP holds regional partnerships bucked the trend, working 14.5% more sessions and 16% more hours in May 2024 compared with May 2023.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair and GP, said: “With yet another compelling survey suggesting the glaring disconnect between what we hear about the lack of GP appointments and lack of GP jobs, we now urgently need qualitative research to find out why GPs aren’t being recruited into these long term posts.

“Is it poor pay, or is it the practice’s choice of IT system? Could it be significant relocation costs, or that the practice is in a small rural community with no amenities; could poor transport links or reserved parking be a buzzkill? The list of reasons are myriad, with many if not all potentially surmountable, but each one impossible to mitigate if we don’t know why these posts are being shunned.

“Or for some practices, are long-term substantive posts just not the right solution? The RCGP have told all political parties to listen to them, so we are telling the RCGP to listen to us: research shows GP locums are a high-quality alternative to substantive roles, and intelligent, agile platforms like LocumDeck, with real-time booking, are covering up to 97% of all vacancies when deployed by ICBs.”

"I have always valued real-person interactive support which the National Association of Sessional GPs has given in spades. It is particularly helpful for the older GP locums who may not be technologically savvy and may feel 'forced into' locum work at the end of their professional career when it wasn't necessarily a planned choice. "

Dr David Grant, GP, Lincolnshire

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