'Workforce and workload': Bristol doctor calls for more GPs after health minister's NHS plan

  • Simon Bradley told to ITV West Country about his reaction to the government plans to tackle NHS waiting times

A newly retired Bristol GP has called for recruitment of more doctors and GPs to solve the NHS workforce crisis after a government plan was unveiled.

General Practitioner Simon Bradley recently retired from Concorde Medical Centre in Little Stoke in Bristol, and is concerned about the number of other NHS professionals retiring early due to burn out.

"Workforce and workload" are the two major sticking points in the health of the NHS according to Bradley.

"The demand for General Practice care from patients - the need for their care has increased, but the number of doctors and nurses and pharmacists have all fallen.

"We don't have the workforce we need to provide the care that patients deserve," he told ITV News West Country.

Therese Coffey set out her new "plan for patients" to receive easier access to NHS and social care services in her inaugural speech as health secretary in the Commons today (Thursday 22).

In the plan, she pledged to fill the worker deficit by asking volunteers who worked for the NHS for free during the Covid pandemic to return.

Bradley said the plan is not enough: "the conservative government have promised us 6000 new GPs over the next year or the year after. We need those 6000 GPs. At the moment the number of GPs are falling - so there are 300 fewer GPs this year than this time last year, but 130,000 more patients.

"We can't just be replaced by our colleagues, the nurses, the pharmacists, all of whom are great and doing a brilliant job. There aren't enough of them but you can't replace GPs because we deal with complexity."

To take the pressure off GP surgeries, a range of workers – such as pharmacists, GP assistants and advanced nurse practitioners – will be used, while pharmacists will be given power to prescribe certain medications without a prescription.

Again, Bradley is critical of the role that pharmacists and nurses will play in the new government plans: "lots of GPs are seeing 60 to 70 patients per day right now - that's a huge burden to carry. So people do need respite from that."

"We do need more GPs right now and it's what the general public should be demanding."

He went on to say that doctors and GPs would remain in the workforce for longer if there were more sharing the workload.

"Therese Coffey is new to the job so we give her the benefit of the doubt that she's just been poorly briefed and is unaware of the real situation. If there was a quick fix her predecessors would have fixed it. There isn't a quick fix.