A senior Banbury medical administrator has spoken of a ‘silent revolution’ in the NHS which could see surgeries struggling to stay open within five to ten years due to a shortage of young doctors.
Andrew McHugh, medical practice director at Banbury’s Horsefair Surgery, fears there will not be enough doctors to meet the growing demand for primary health care because becoming a GP has become an ‘unattractive’ option for young doctors.
Writing exclusively to the Banbury Guardian, Mr McHugh said: “The NHS as a whole, and General Practice in particular, are now being asked to do more and more with less and less.
“Many young doctors are now opting for ‘portfolio careers’ – a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Those that are entering General Practice are, on the whole, opting for part-time contracts of employment. In the future, this will have a significant impact on the ability to deliver continuity of care.”
Mr McHugh said he recently polled the views of doctors and managers in General Practice across Oxfordshire. Of the respondents about 44 per cent were unsure if their practice would exist in five years and 70 per cent were unsure if their practice would exist in ten years.
More than 70 per cent of those polled said they had one or more doctors suffering ‘burn out’ and an inability to cope due to the pressures of work.
The issue of GPs opting for part time roles means practices could be left with a shortage of the GP partners needed to run them. Mr McHugh stated 45 per cent of those he surveyed thought the current partnership model of General Practice to be ‘unsustainable for the future’.
The survey did however show a minority of surgeries believed it was ‘easy to recruit’ new GP partners, salaried GPs and locum GPs .
John McGowan, practice manager at Banbury’s Windrush Surgery, said the West Bar practice has had no trouble recently recruiting a junior doctor and while he is aware of the national debate on the shortage of GPs it is yet to affect the surgery.
However, he admitted colleagues have told him they are struggling to recruit partners and some are only able to recruit locums on a contractual basis rather than full time practice-based GPs.