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GP shortages put pressure on doctors and patients

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A recent investigation into the national shortage of GPs has found that many have abandoned the profession, and junior doctors are avoiding the position with the view that it is an “unglamorous” career. Figures reveal that these factors have caused the number of unfilled GP positions to quadruple in the last three years – leaving surgeries unable to cope with increasing demands.

Surgeries across the country are struggling to keep up with growing workloads. One practice in Whitehaven, Cumbria, opened its phone lines at 08:00, and 12 minutes later all 49 appointments had been filled.

An investigation carried out by BBC Inside Out ComRes found that of 1,004 GPs interviewed across the country, 56% plan to retire or leave general practice before the age of 60.

“the physical volume of work does take its toll”

Not only are GP practices feeling the effects of increased pressure, but other health practitioners and out-of-hours services as well. They are being forced to carry a great degree of the extra workload for GPs.

In Carlisle, one in three GP surgeries has unfilled positions for doctors, leaving around 20,000 patients without a doctor and putting extra pressure on other GPs.

Dr Guy Clayton, a GP from Beverley in Yorkshire, said: “The physical volume of the work does take its toll … I do feel that general practice is on the verge of being irreparably broken.”

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