As recent news stories have highlighted, the ability to access a GP varies widely across the country. In Swale in Kent there is only one GP for every 3,300 patients, while in Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire it is just under one for every 1,200.
The proportion of patients to GPs is particularly high in the South East and areas of deprivation. Brighton has consistently been higher than the national figure and is among the worst performing areas with currently 2,805 patients per GP . Only Swale and Horsham and Mid Sussex have a higher figure.
Reduced numbers of GPs serving an increasing patient population mean increasing pressure on the primary care service. Patients find it harder to get an appointment and experience longer waits. This increased difficulty accessing primary care risks health needs going unmet and is likely to lead to increased pressure on A&E hospital services.
The NHS Long Term Plan announced an increase in the proportion of the budget spent on general practice in a bid to recruit 5,000 more GPs. Also, the local CCG acknowledge the shortage of GPs in our area and are making efforts to recruit more. We hope these efforts make real progress in addressing the shortage in Brighton and Hove.
This year Healthwatch will be conducting another major review of GP practices in the city, examining the patient caseload at each practice and asking patients their experience of the service provided. Visits to surgeries will start in April and reports are expected at the end of the year.