GP shortage hits B&NES

Bath and North East Somerset is one of the areas in the country worst hit by the growing shortage of GPs, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed

It comes as many people are struggling to book an appointment with their GP, with services increasingly under pressure from rising demand.

The figures show there is now just one GP per 1,937 people in Bath and North East Somerset in June 2021, compared to the national average of one GP per 2,038 people.

This is up 6% from the one GP per 1,827 people in Bath and North East Somerset five years ago.

The number of GPs employed in the area has also fallen by 2% to just 480 in the same period.

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse MP has said the alarming figures, based on analysis by the House of Commons Library, revealed the stark “postcode lottery” facing GP patients. The party is calling on the Government to invest in GP services to ensure people can get a doctors’ appointment when they need one.

Further analysis by the British Medical Association (BMA) shows a dismal picture overall for GPs, with there being the equivalent of over 1,900 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs now than there were in 2015.

The picture is similarly bleak when compared to the UK’s international neighbours. OECD stats from 2019 show that the UK’s average of three doctors per 1,000 people ranks below the likes of Hungary and the Czech Republic, and only just ahead of Brazil and Mexico.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath said:  

“The Conservative Government is badly letting down both GPs and patients in Bath and North East Somerset. Instead of fixing the GP shortage crisis, the Conservatives are making it worse by failing to train the new doctors we so desperately need.

“Our local GPs have been working flat-out throughout the pandemic and they deserve our support. The worsening national GP shortage has given rise to a postcode lottery, with our hard-working GPs overstretched and people left waiting too long for treatment or even an appointment.

Cllr Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Communities and Culture commented:

“Families rely on being able to see a GP when they or their children fall sick to get advice, access treatment and get well again. The Government must invest more in our GP practices and train up more doctors, to ensure patients get the fair deal they deserve.”

The data from the House of Commons Library is broken into two main sections, number of GPs per area and people per GP. The headlines show: 

  • Since 2015 there has been a 5% increase of the number of people per GP in England.
  • The majority of CCG areas in England have seen a drop in GPs with 54 of 113 areas seeing a drop since 2015. 
  • There are huge disparities across the country with Hull and Portsmouth seeing around a 40% increase in people per GP as well as an over 25% decrease in the number of GPs in the area. 
  • Some areas have twice as many people per GP as others, with Wirral CCG having 1,279 patients while Hull has 2,821.

Recent Analysis by the BMA shows a grim picture overall for GPs:

  • The overall number of FTE (full-time equivalent) GPs has seen little growth since 2015, with the number of GP partners significantly reducing in that time.
  • In February 2020, to combat the stasis in GP workforce numbers, the Government announced a drive to recruit an additional 6000 GPs by 2024. That’s 1200-1500 extra doctors in general practice per financial year by the end of 2024.
  • There are 1,904 fewer fully qualified FTE GPs now than there were in 2015.
  • Looking at the last year, between June 2020 and July 2021, the number of GP partners reduced by 924 doctors. This decrease means that despite an increase of 1,189 salaried and locum GPs over the same period, the number of qualified GPs only increased by 265 in this time.
  • In FTE terms (37.5 hours per week), the number of fully qualified FTE GPs has only increased by 190 (to 27,499) over the past year.