'The NHS is not surviving' Fears GPs could become a thing of the past as pressure mounts on service

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Stacey Poole

As the NHS marks its 75th anniversary, there are fears amongst medical professionals that General Practice (GP) services will soon become a thing of the past.

The number of GPs leaving the profession is said to be at a record high but demand from patients has increased.

It often means GP surgeries are seeing many more patients a day than is deemed "safe" with appointments less than 10 minutes long.

Laura Edwards, Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee, said: "The safe levels are set at around 25 patient contacts per day.

"I would say it's not uncommon for this area that people are seeing 20 patients in a morning and then the same again in the afternoon and home visits on top of that and all the invisible paperwork which may mean another 100 or so patients that they are being involved with."

The level of pressure is affecting the morale and mental health of GPs with one in 20 GPs now diagnosed with a mental health issue.

Dominique O'Carroll-Bailey, GP, said: "We're creaking under the weight, we have an impossible amount of work to be done in a time period we've got to do it and that's why people are leaving."

Laura Edwards, Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee, added: "We need to be really honest with the public about the true state that it is in.

"In all likelihood I think that GP levels are around 50% - that's half - of what we need and combine with that we have a population that is now medically complex that is growing and that is increasing in age."

Figures show 89% of GPs don't feel they have long enough with patients to allow them to make a thorough diagnosis.

  • Laura Edwards Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee says GPs cry down the phone to her because of the pressure they're under

"It's terrifying going to work each day knowing that you might make a mistake because you're under such pressure and I speak to GPs who cry down the phone to me at being placed in such an impossible position," Laura Edwards, Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee, added.

Some GPs are moving into the private sector.

Hayley Cousins, NHS and private GP said: "I think the NHS as we know it is already not surviving, you know you can't get a GP appointment when you want to.

"You know you can't see your GP for everything you need so we know the NHS that was there isn't like that anymore, we can all see it around us and it's really sad to see."

Last week the government announced its NHS workforce plan setting out how it plans to employ more than 300,000 extra nurses, doctors and other health workers over the coming years.

Laura Edwards, Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee, explained: "We are in a really rocky place at the moment and it's a tipping point for general practice.

"We really need the population and our communities to support us going forwards otherwise I do worry that general practice is disappearing before our eyes."

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