Urgent action is needed to alleviate pressure in general practice in Ipswich as GPs in the Suffolk town are facing case loads of up to 80 consultations a day, a doctor has said.
The governing body of Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commission group (CCG) are being asked to approve a raft of measures to “reinvigorate and sustain” the 13 general practices in the East Anglian town.
In a report for Tuesday’s meeting ( May 17) Governing body member and Ipswich GP Dr John Hague said practices were facing additional demands. Telephone and face-to-face consultations in Ipswich practices average at 60 a day, rising to 80 consultations in some cases.
He said the demand was caused by the number of elderly patients with complex needs, more people wanting help with minor ailments and the need for longer and more frequent appointments for marginalised and vulnerable adults.
GPs in the town look after 172,686 patients.
Nearly all the town’s practices have at least one nurse or GP vacancy and many are facing two to three GP vacancies now, or in the near future, said Dr Hague.
The cost of locums coupled with a decrease in funding for general practice “presents a major challenge to sustainability,” he said.
Dr Hague said: “It is clear that GPs as well as other clinicians, management and support staff are under immense pressure and these high standards of care may be jeopardised if action is not taken to support individuals and practices individually and collectively.”
He pointed out that the pressures are prevalent in east Suffolk and nationally and were highlighted in NHS England’s GP Forward Viewreport.
Work is already underway in Ipswich to alleviate the pressure, including extra evening and weekend appointments funded by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, training for clinical and management teams and new Local Enhanced Services.
The CCG is being asked to support “urgent, collective action”.
Measures include training programmes for receptionists, recruiting staff include pharmacists and mental health workers and on-going investment in training for GPs, nurses and practice managers.
The CCG is also giving practices time for long-term planning and to look at options including the Super Practice model.
It is also looking at ways of helping with workloads and empowering patients to self-care.