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Concern for the future of GP care provision

View profile for Pam Thompson
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Concern for the future of GP care provision

The issues raised in the BBC article 'The areas with the fewest GPs revealed' are very concerning for the future of GP care provision.

It was necessary, during the pandemic, for GPs to carry out most of their consultations over the telephone or by video call. However, it seems this practice has now continued in much higher numbers than would have occurred prior to the pandemic. It seems inevitable that the reduction in GP numbers will only lead to this practice continuing and people will have less opportunity to have face-to-face appointments with a GP, in the future.

It seems clear that people are struggling to contact their GP surgeries, for any type of appointments, and the reduction in GP numbers can only make this problem worse.

It seems that the lack of face-to-face appointments, or indeed any appointment at all, will inevitably lead to a much higher chance of misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. This is very concerning in the case of some medical conditions, for example a suspected cancer diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, can have serious consequences in some circumstances.

There would also be a concern that newly qualified doctors, in seeing the pressures GPs face, would not be drawn to GP training. This may not be an appealing speciality for them.

This problem with GP numbers is also likely to put more pressure on secondary care hospital services, such as emergency departments. However, there are other ways of seeking medical advice, without having to attend the emergency department. These include the NHS 111 service, local pharmacists, minor injury units and urgent care centres. These services can be very helpful if a patient cannot immediately access a GP appointment.

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