Almost 90% of GP practices are struggling to find locums to cover shifts amid growing pressures on the workforce, the BMA has said.
Its survey of almost 3,000 GP practices also showed that just one in ten GP practices in England is able to get by without locum cover.
The GPC said the fact that the ‘vast majority’ of GPs practices are ‘having to rely routinely on temporary cover’ was adding to growing evidence of the pressures that general practice is under, calling on the Government to act.
Key findings of the survey of 2,814 GP practices included:
- Almost half of practices (46%) ‘frequently’ struggle to find locums, and a further 40% struggle ‘occassionally’;
- In the worst affected areas - the South and the South West - 61% and 57% of practices, respectively, frequently struggle with filling locum shifts;
- Only 10% of practices say they cope without locums, although in some regions this was even fewer (in the South only 5% cope and in the West Midlands the figure was only 6%).
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the situation was likely to negatively impact on patients.
He said that ’increasingly GP practices are facing longer term vacancies because of the recruitment crisis gripping general practice’ and if ’a GP locum cannot be found in these situations many practices struggle to offer enough appointments to meet their patients’ needs’.
Dr Nagpaul said: ’These results show that many GP practices are struggling to find cover to plug the staffing gaps they face and that the vast majority are having to rely routinely on temporary cover.
’In this climate, it is clear there are no longer enough GP locums to cover the widening gaps in the GP workforce. This is undoubtedly adding to the incredible pressure on GP services which has left it in a state of emergency and struggling to provide even basic care to patients.
‘The Government needs to begin addressing this crisis and deliver its promised support package for general practice. We need a long term, well financed plan to prevent GP services from collapsing.’
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