An ‘epidemic’ of stress and significant pressures on primary care practices has hit recruitment and retention of GPs and the situation is set to become more difficult and worsen in the near future.
East Kent is particularly impacted with the closing of East Family Practice in Folkestone with 5,000 patients now left without any GP practice and access to continued care. Other practices in Shepway and the Marsh area are down by one GP and this is forcing practices to turn away patients and suspend waiting lists.
Recent data from 30 medical schools released under the freedom of information laws, reported that nearly 1,200 British medical students have left medical school without no qualification, and up to 300 students quit medical school each year.
The General Medical Council has cited a rise in mental health problems among medical students and there is very little support provided to help these students who are struggling with stress and the ability to cope.
Kent and Medway are expected to lose 40% of GPs in the next five years, with the majority planning to retire and not enough new recruits available to replace them.
In response to the crisis, NHS England has developed a scheme to recruit new doctors to Kent and Medway which is identified as one of 11 areas nationwide that have been approved for recruitment with International GP Doctors which commenced in April 2017.
As part of the GP forward drive, the government has pledged to invest an extra 2.4 billion pounds each year by 2021 – a 14% real terms rise. This investment will support dedicated training programmes about GP practice in England, language requirement and meeting the standards of the national Induction and Refresher Scheme.
The scheme will provide funding for relocation of GPs and their families and ongoing support to make them feel at home in the country. However, criticism has been cited by the BMA Chair, Dr. Nagpaul who criticized Jeremy Hunt’s new recruitment scheme with Apollo Hospitals in India, and the transfer of up to 400 GPs to England, whilst not providing urgent support packages for local general practices. Dr. Nagpaul stated “that Hunt’s pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 is clearly collapsing into chaos.”