Figures show where GP cover is thinnest in Suffolk

Dr Dan Poulter MP. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Dan Poulter MP. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Disputed figures from the NHS show that there is still a wide variation in the number of GPs available for patients across Suffolk - but the situation in the worst area is easing.

The NHS has published figures showing the numbers of patients per GP in every clinical commissioning group and every practice across the country - but some practices say they don't recognise the figures that are quoted for them.

The area of Suffolk with the most patients per GP is north west Ipswich, which is served by the Cardinal Practice which operates out of three surgeries in Norwich Road, Deben Road and Chesterfield Drive.

That has almost 30,000 patients registered with it and 5.4 full-time equivalent GPs - giving a ratio of one GP for every 5,500 patients according to the NHS figures.

However the Ipswich and Suffolk CCG said there were 5.7 FTE GPs at the practice - one for every 5,200 patients. 

But that is an improvement on the previous year when it was formed by a merger of three smaller practices because retirements risked leaving areas without any GP cover.

According to the NHS statistics, there were 2.5 FTE GPs at Framlingham, meaning there was one for every 4,000 of the 10,000 patients on its books. However the CCG said the practice had always had 4.25 FTE GPs.

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Meanwhile at Long Melford the NHS figures said there were 8.3 GPs for just over 9,000 patients - meaning the average was one per 1,100 patients. However, the surgery believed it had 4.8 FTE GPs, bringing into line with average figures.

Across the areas there was an average of 2,422 patients per GP in Ipswich and East Suffolk, 1,982 in West Suffolk and 2,545 in North East Essex. The average number for England was 2,268. 

A spokesman for the Suffolk CCGs said: “There is a wide team of health care professionals working at many surgeries, not only GPs, but also physiotherapists, pharmacists, nurses and physician associates, enabling people to access the most appropriate care for their needs.

“Our GP practices are an important part of the community and we will continue to support them in looking after people’s health and wellbeing.”

Dr Dan Poulter's Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency includes both the Cardinal Practice and Framlingham surgery - and he takes a keen interest in primary care in the area.

He said: "There have been problems at the Cardinal Practice but I know they are actively recruiting and certainly things are improving there - they also have a strong team of nurses and other health staff.

"Framlingham is a very successful practice and people from out of its area tend to register with it. Because it is so successful it is also a training practice, where fully-qualified doctors learn about general practice.

"They see patients, but they are not included in the figures."