The problem, explained Dr Metha, is that patients who cannot get an appointment with a GP turn up at King George Hospital putting further pressure on already stretched resources. Dr Metha went on to say that the average GP list size in Redbridge is 2600 whereas in some other boroughs it is as low as 1700. The situation is set to get worse with GPs retiring and not being replaced.
Andy Walker, a local health campaigner, said: “There is strong evidence that overcrowded A&E departments lead to worse patient outcomes, including longer stays in hospital and worse mortality rates (1). So we need more GPs in Redbridge as a matter of urgency to ease the pressure on King George A&E”.
Mr Walker has organised a Public Meeting on Thursday 11 May 2017 in the Gloucester room, Central Library Ilford, to discuss what needs to be done to improve the situation. The leader of the council, Jas Athwal, has committed to provide a statement on the GP issue for this meeting. It is hoped that Redbridge CCG will send a representative or provide a written statement.
The Inner London Clinical Commissioning Group Board Papers earlier this week contained: (2).
“Workforce - Summary In order to meet the shortfall of supply of GPs in EL, (high retirement rates and a shortage of available new GPs) and to develop a more efficient, patient-centred service, we will need to develop and increase the numbers of practice nurses, physician associates and pharmacists to provide a full multi-disciplinary team (MDT) workforce model. We are currently on target to deliver physician associate training placements in 2017 and a workforce supply in 2019. We have a pharmacist pilot programme in Newham GP practices and will look to expand this across TST in 2017-18.”Mr Walker was not impressed, saying, “This seems an inferior GP service to the current one and it must be a concern that a similar GP downgrade is being planned for Redbridge. Cutting the number of GPs in East London is bound to drive more patients towards private GP consultations, which is likely to further reduce the number of NHS GPs available (3).
He went on “It is puzzling that current regulations seem to stop a single handed GP starting up from scratch in Redbridge in a converted house. Purpose built, multi-disciplinary and multi-partner surgeries may be better than single GP practices, but they are not happening in sufficient numbers to tackle the GP shortage”.