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Doctors' leaders: 'Not enough GPs to care for patients'

Some surgeries here say they are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit GPs. Photo: PA

Doctors' leaders have warned today that, in some parts of the North East, there are not enough GPs to care for patients.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has said there is a "worrying" shortage of doctors here, due to a combination of many taking early retirement due to work pressures and low numbers of trainees.

NHS Digital figures show:

  • 17,432 more patients were registered with GPs in the North East and Cumbria in May this year, compared to May last year
  • 36 fewer GPs were working in the North East and Cumbria in March this year, compared to March last year - down from 2,097 to 2,061
  • 76.6% of GP training places have been filled - the lowest of any region

The professional body for GPs held a conference in Newcastle today to discuss increasing workload and ways to combat it.

“Over the last few years the North East has had some of the lowest levels of recruitment of GPs in the country and in some areas of our region, we are now in a worrying situation where there are simply not enough GPs to care for patients."

– Dr Lily Lamb, GP in Northumberland and Royal College of General Practitioners

The Royal College of General Practitioners stressed patients are still being kept safe, but warned the situation is unsustainable. It called for more innovation and investment in primary care.

The government says it is "committed" to recruiting an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020.

It was recently announced that one of five new medical schools around the country will be in Sunderland.

"GPs are a crucial part of the NHS and we are committed to meeting our objective of recruiting an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020.

We have recently expanded the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme to encourage trainee GPs to work in areas of the country where it is typically difficult to recruit.

More than 3,000 GPs have entered training this year, 1,500 new medical school places are being made available by 2019 and NHS England plans to recruit an extra 2,000 overseas doctors in the next three years."

– Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson