By Dr Wirin Bhatiani
The national shortage of GPs is making headlines – you may have even heard BBC Radio 5 Live discussing the topic when it broadcast from Bolton recently.
GPs have a growing and increasingly complex workload. Many feel unable to cope and are often working extra hours just to get the job done.
It’s no wonder many are choosing to leave the profession or retire early.
In Bolton alone, 25 per cent of our GPs are planning to retire in the next ten years; others have reduced their hours or want to. We have to find ways of retaining our experienced GPs.
The government has been urged to take urgent action so that this does not have a negative impact on patients and other parts of the NHS.
It’s vital more doctors come into general practice but this takes time – from entering medical school to becoming a GP takes at least ten years! That’s why in Bolton we are already taking action.
We offer GPs the opportunity to remain in the profession on reduced hours, backed with professional support, so we don’t lose their skills altogether.
There has been an increase in younger GPs leaving the profession so we are setting up a support group for them.
In addition, we are supporting practices in the areas which will be hardest hit.
I know that Bolton is a great place to work and live, and we are making sure GP trainees know this too. Our school and college leavers are also being encouraged to think about the fantastic careers in primary care in Bolton.
But GPs are only part of the solution. If you visit your local practice, you will come into contact with a range of people: from the admin staff to the assistant practitioners who help your GP.
We are taking steps to retain those staff too, and encourage them to progress in their careers.