GPs Fear that NHS Backlog is worsening patient health

The NHS’ General Practice doctors warn of patient health as the backlog of patients worsens – a pattern that will undoubtedly affect workforce productivity in the UK and long-run economic growth, the Financial Times reports.

Across the UK, GPs are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of care they are able to provide to the British public as an abundant waiting list of around 6 million patients is causing the health of British citizens to decline.

The backlog comes due to a severe labour shortage within the NHS of 43,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors with 90,000 total vacancies. This factor paired with the unprecedented demand that the health service has yet to accommodate to due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a disastrous state. As such, the NHS has been unable to adequately care for many patients, which has led to much harbouring disdain towards the service. Many patients have even made the move to go to private health services to receive faster care. For example, patients waiting for ear wax removal.

To ensure the quality of care in the NHS doesn’t further degrade, Professor Martin Marshall, head of the Royal College of GP’s, called on the government to back an amendment to the legislation, currently going through Parliament, which would require an independently verified assessment of the service’s staffing needs to be published every 2 years.

The Financial Times report that there were 800 fewer full-time equivalents GPs in March 2019, about 2.5% of the workforce. ‘When I’m seeing my 55th patient of the day it’s very difficult when you’re worn out when you’re tired when you’ve already been working 12 or 13 hours to provide the same quality of care as you did for your first or second or third patient of the day’ stated Marshall.

He then went on to add that GPs were ‘genuinely concerned about the risks of missing a serious diagnosis or making a prescribing error…GPs are becoming increasingly anxious that they might start making mistakes. Productivity is decelerating as GPs are overworked and exhausted. They are also suffering along with the public’s health.

To combat the debilitating lack of GPs, the Department of Health and Social Care added that it had invested £530 million to expand GP capacity within the NHS during the pandemic as well as £1.5 billion until 2024. They are also ‘making 4,000 training places available for GP’s every year, to help create an extra 50 million appointments annually.


Written by Chanel Enow


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