Haverhill GPs ‘burn-out’ because of huge demand from patients

Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of Suffolk GP Federation. Picture: SUFFOLK GP FEDERATIO

Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of Suffolk GP Federation. Picture: SUFFOLK GP FEDERATION - Credit: SUFFOLK GP FEDERATION

Huge demands on GPs in Haverhill has led to “burn-out” and problems recruiting health professionals, a new report says.

Figures prepared for the Suffolk County Council health scrutiny board revealed that patients in Haverhill visit their local surgery an average of nine times a year, compared to just six per year on average nationally.

The additional demand has left the town’s two GP surgeries – Haverhill Family Practice and Christmas Maltings and Clements – facing the challenge of increased demand and budgeting.

The report said: “This additional demand for services presents unique challenges in providing this level of capacity within budget.

“The high level of demand has led to GP ‘burn-out’ and consequent recruitment problems.

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“Locum GPs are being utilised to meet the demand, which is expensive.

“These issues are having an impact on all staff working in Haverhill with a consequent impact on recruitment and retention.”

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The report said that many patients were now leaving their surgeries to register with those in neighbouring Wickhambrook.

Between them the two surgeries had around 32,500 patients, meaning the surgeries were dealing with nearly 300,000 appointments every year.

A spokesman from West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The CCG continues to work closely with the town’s two GP practices and other health partners to deliver new initiatives which will relieve pressure on staff and improve the town’s primary care services.

“A good example of this work is the introduction of trained care navigators will help patients see the right health professional first time, such as a physiotherapist for back issues, freeing up GP appointments for those in most need.

“It’s well known that the recruitment of GPs and other health professionals is a national issue and we continue to support the development programmes of NHS England, Suffolk GP Federation and Health Education England to recruit and retain healthcare professionals across the county.”

The report said many GPs no longer aspired to become a partner in their practice because of the additional responsibilities, and agency GPs were expensive short-term solutions.

Dr Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of Suffolk GP Federation, which manages Christmas Maltings and Clements Practice, said: “We are delivering amongst the highest number of appointments in Suffolk for a practice of our size and this has been helped by introducing a wider skills mix to the practice including nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics and pharmacists, all of whom are supervised by a doctor.

“These clinicians have specialist knowledge on a range of conditions, which helps to free up doctors’ times for the most complex cases and allows patients to be seen quicker.”

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