Action plan to deal with Doncaster’s GP recruitment problems

Heath bosses have explained how they plan to deal with falling numbers of GPs in the face of concerns over the ratio of patients to doctors.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 8:14 am
Updated Monday, 20th May 2019, 6:06 pm

Former union official Doug Wright raised concerns at the NHS’s Quality and Patient Safety committee in the public questions section.

He said: “The national safe and manageable ratio of GPs is one whole time equivalent GP to 1600 patients. In Doncaster it is 2600 patients. There is a significant retirement risk in Doncaster for GPs, ongoing workload pressures within general practice and traditional recruitment is not working.

“There is also the increasing problem of implementing the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System. Apart from transforming the primary care workforce, what can be done to retain and recruit GPs, given the ongoing annual reduction in Doncaster CCG financial plans is currently around 10 million?”

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Doug Wright, pictured at Cantley Terminus, spoke to Doncaster cabinet about his concerns on the town's deteriorating bus service. Picture: Marie Caley D5498MC

Mr Anthony Fitzgerald director of strategy and delivery at the Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group told him the CCG commissioned a workforce strategy which included an assessment of its current workforce, which showed the average age of GPs in Doncaster was 47, but the average age of its advanced nurse practitioners was 55.

He added: “We recognise however that it is very difficult to recruit GPs in some areas and that there is an appetite now for expanded and more varied roles rather than the traditional full time GP in practice.

“To this end we are working closely with Primary Care Doncaster Ltd, the GP Federation, and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Workforce and Training Hub, to develop a number of schemes to support our local workforce such as GP Fellowships and increasing non-medical prescriber roles and supporting and sustaining our 10 training practices.

“The strategy includes an action plan which involves upskilling our existing workforce, developing future supply, developing new roles and promoting new ways of working. There is increased investment in primary care through the Long-Term Plan and a major part of this is around the expansion of the primary care workforce not only GPs, but other newer roles and we will take full advantage of this when our networks are established.

“In the meantime, we are working across the ICS on an international recruitment programme, we have recently approved a retained GP application and have just developed our own local protocol which will enable the matching of doctors wishing to remain in the NHS with those practices struggling to recruit.

He said the CCG was are also linked in to the NHS England GP retention programme across Yorkshire and the Humber and was working with the borough’s practices to help plan the future practice workforce.

He added: “Our revised primary care strategy set outs the vision for the next two years whereby GP capacity is freed up by the movement of minor illness out of the GP surgery and into a pharmacy setting.

“The existing workforce profile is not sustainable longer term and with the investment in new primary care roles, involvement in schemes across the ICS and better understanding our workforce and workload data we feel we are in a better position to plan for the future than we have been before.

"This will include significant communications and engagement work with the general public to enable a better understanding of where they can obtain appropriate care and from whom as well as general promotion of Doncaster as a place to live and work.”