The story of retiring Whinmoor GP Dr Makram Mossad demonstrates, in microcosm, a looming national problem.
Dr Mossad’s surgery is being forced to close next week when he, the sole practitioner, retires. Around 2,000 patients will be affected.
The upheaval for patients in these circumstances – many of whom will have built up a relationship with a GP going back years – cannot be under-played.
Two years ago the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) warned that up to 543 GP practices in England – potentially rising to nearly 600 across the UK – could be forced to close because of a deepening crisis in GP recruitment and retention.
It warned that unless drastic action was taken to make sure that there were enough doctors to take their place, thousands of patients could be forced to travel miles to their nearest GP practice.
The maths aren’t difficult: fewer people wanting to become GPs plus many GPs reaching retirement age plus a booming population means fewer practitioners and, inevitably, a reduction in the quality of patient care.
Why so few students are opting to choose to become general practitioners is at the nub of this crisis.
Issues such as working hours, workload, bureaucracy and fear of litigation rank among the reasons doctors steer clear.
There’s no easy solution – but unless things change there will be many more examples like that of Dr Mossad and, as our population ages, putting more and more pressure on the health service, this is simply untenable.