Leeds GP calls for 'urgent' Government intervention over mounting pressures on GPs

Delivering high quality care is becoming “increasingly difficult” says a leading Leeds GP amid growing concerns over mounting pressure on GP services.

Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 4:45 am
Dr Richard Vautrey, a Leeds GP and chairman of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners’ Committee. Picture: Simon Hulme

Dr Richard Vautrey, a Leeds GP and chairman of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners’ Committee, added his voice to fears over stretched health services and rising demands for GPs.

He said: “The NHS entered the pandemic on the backfoot, desperately underfunded and short on staff - things that, despite repeated calls from the BMA both during and before Covid-19, haven’t improved and make delivering the high-quality care our communities deserve increasingly difficult.

“It’s vital that the Government understands this, especially as we look to tackling the backlog of patients who have had their treatment interrupted because of Covid-19, or delayed seeking help because of the pandemic.

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“GPs have done everything they can to improve pressures in their own surgeries, but we can’t make the changes we and our patients want to see without urgent Government intervention to retain and expand our workforce, and give practices the funding they desperately need.”

Another health expert yesterday said even before the coronavirus crisis, the four nations of the UK had some of the lowest number of GPs per population across Europe.

Jamie Jenkins, former head of health analysis at the Office for National Statistics, said this, together with the fact that many patients had steered clear of seeking help during the pandemic, had created a “perfect storm”, putting “huge demand” on the health service, particularly for GPs.

It comes after the Yorkshire Evening Post revealed each GP team in the city was dealing with an average of 9,663 patients as of the end of June, according to new figures.

Over the past year, the number of patients in the city had increased by 5,066 but the amount of GP practices had stayed the same, at 93.

In May 2021 alone, the city’s GP practices experienced 375,873 consultations - far higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Dr Vautrey told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “GP surgeries have continued to see patients face-to-face during the pandemic, but as with many other NHS services, the number of in-person appointments has had to reduce to protect patients – particularly those at higher risk if exposed to Covid-19.

“Although practices remain committed to making sure their services are accessible to those without access to digital consultations, or who struggle to use technology, we know that things feel different right now, and that this can be incredibly frustrating for patients who just want to see their doctor, without delay.”

The Department of Health and Social Care previously told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We have invested £270m to expand GP capacity, on top of the £1.5 billion for extra staff until 2023-24.

“The highest ever number of doctors accepted a place on GP specialty training in 2020 and we are committed to increasing the number of training places available to 4,000 a year, as well as targeting recruitment in hard-to-recruit areas.”