August 18, 2014
Burnham-On-Sea Medical Centre warns of 'crisis in general practice'

A warning has been issued over a "crisis in general practice" by Burnham & Berrow Medical Centre.

The centre's latest newsletter for patients includes an article outlining the concerns and it warns that "things have never been closer to breaking point, both in Somerset and the UK as a whole".

The article, signed by the centre's partners, adds: "Over recent years the demands on general practice have increased massively due to increasing expectations from society as to what medicine can offer. At the same time funding has effectively decreased. Although we in general practice see over 90% of the total NHS consultations we receive less than 8% of the healthcare budget."

"As a practice we routinely take over 1,000 telephone calls a day. The GPs are working 12-14 hours a day with no break. Each partner does between 70-90 consultations on a daily basis in addition to the administration, referrals and checking results etc."

"This is not sustainable or safe. There are practices in Somerset where over half of the GPs are off work with stress. I am sure you will be aware of the recent press coverage of practices closing or on the brink of closure with the threat of
mass GP resignation. This is not something we as a profession take lightly, in fact, it is heart-breaking."

"The reasons for this crisis are multi-factorial. The complexity of our workload has increased beyond all recognition and this, in combination with an ageing and increasingly unwell population, is causing the system to buckle under the strain."

"In addition there is a national recruitment crisis and we are seeing this in very real terms here in Somerset. In the past a job advert to replace a retiring partner would have received many applicants, but unfortunately it is now frequently the
case that no applications are received."

"Very few medical school graduates want to become a GP anymore and many of those who are GPs are leaving prematurely due to burnout, stress, ill health and low morale."

"At Burnham & Berrow Medical Centre we, the Partners, are committed to continue to work in what we believe is a wonderful health centre providing high quality care to the locality."

The centre says that over the coming weeks there will be changes in its appointment system and access system. It adds: "We will continue to provide same day care for urgent problems but for more routine matters waiting times are likely to increase. This is unavoidable and is not unique to Burnham & Berrow Medical Centre. We are grateful for your support and value your feedback."

The newsletter can be accessed on the BBMC website and, alternatively, copies can also be obtained from the Burnham and Berrow surgeries.

Dr Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director with NHS England, said: "The vast majority of patients rate their GP surgery very positively, and the number of visits to a type 1 A&E has in fact only been rising quite slowly. But despite a 21% increase in the number of GPs since 2000, family doctors are working incredibly hard, so we're working with practices around the country to make it easier to visit, email or skype your doctor at evenings and weekend, and to make it easier for local clinicians to move funding into innovative new primary care services."

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