Doctors and practice managers across London have declared a “GP state of emergency” saying they face pressures which threaten services to patients.
The move came from the Londonwide Local Medical Committee’s (LMC) annual conference.
Chief executive Michelle Drage warned: “Patients risk losing their GPs unless pressures on general proactive are dramatically eased. General practice is at breaking point. That’s not safe for patients or staff.
“Between bean counting, over inspection and rising indemnity fees London general practice has had enough. We’re declaring a GP state of emergency.”
She said the LMC, which represents 7,000 GPs at 1,300 practice teams was focusing on a state of emergency in the workforce as the results of its last six-monthly survey on staffing was “worrying”.
She said GPs needed to “push back against non-core demand and focus on what’s immediately necessary for care” or there was a real risk that they would let their patients down, as well as themselves.
“November’s survey shows that almost half of practices are short of at least one member of staff, a third are missing at least one GP and 39 practices are considering handing back the keys within three years,” added Drage.
Out of the 644 London practices that responded to the survey 284 said at least one GP was planning to retire in the next three years, while 199 practices reported a GP vacancy.
Practices have reported more demand for appointments from an ageing and growing population in the capital, with a steady rise in the average number of consultations per patient from 3.9 in 1995 to 8.3 last year.
London’s population is also set to rise from 8.6 million last year, to more than 10 million over the next 15 years, with more patients needing care for chronic disease.
The LMC said although London did not have any vacant posts last year there was a decrease in applicants to training scheme in the capital.
Londonwide LMCs are working with national GP bodies including the British Medial Association’s general practitioners committee and the Royal College of General Practice to “ensure that the voice of London GPs is heard on the national stage”.
It has also produced guides to help practices manage better cash flow management, safely decline inappropriate work and freeing up appointments via alternative prescribing.