Shadow Health Minister and Burnley MP Julie Cooper has this week given a stark warning about the current state of the GP service, both locally and nationally.
Mrs Cooper, whose Shadow Community Health brief includes responsibility for General Practice on the opposition front bench, has responded angrily to figures showing a further fall in numbers of serving GPs in a service which is already under pressure.
Mrs Cooper said: “General Practice is in crisis. We are hearing this on a daily basis from patients and professionals who continue to give examples of practices which cannot recruit desperately needed doctors, GPs buckling under the ever increasing workload of a service unable to cope and patients increasingly unable to access appointments when they need them.
“In short, the Government is just not listening and, unless urgent action is taken, practices will inevitably close as a consequence. The service is haemorrhaging doctors and being brought to its knees.”
Professor Helen-Stokes Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the news that GP numbers are down 0.6% from September 2017 to December 2017, to 33,872 saying: "This is very disappointing news – and frustrating as even a small drop in GP numbers can have a huge ripple effect on hard-working GPs, our teams and the care we are able to give to our patients.
“GPs are currently facing intense resource pressures, and we desperately need more doctors if we are to stand any chance of turning this crisis around.
“Workload in general practice has increased by at least 16% over the last seven years, but the number of GPs delivering care to patients has not risen in step.
“For some, the pressure has become too much and it’s genuinely awful that some GPs are prematurely leaving a profession, which, when properly resourced and funded, can be so rewarding and fulfilling.
“But ultimately, it’s our patients who suffer when we lose GPs and we need to make sure that, as well as retaining existing and experienced doctors, measures are taken to attract new GPs to the profession for the future.
“We need to start seeing the promises laid out in NHS England’s GP Forward View, which include an extra £2.4bn for general practice, 5,000 more GPs and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team, delivered in full as a matter of urgency.
“GPs are the cornerstone of our NHS - a system which is the envy of the world – but there is a limit to what we can do and there simply aren’t enough of us to deliver the safe care our patients need and deserve.”