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How can your practice cope with the GP shortage?

It’s no secret that as the need for primary care services grows, general practice is struggling to recruit the GPs needed to meet demand. How can GP practices in the worst-hit area take steps to meet demand?

The scale of the GP shortage is clear, but some areas are much worse off than others. BBC News reported that while areas such as Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire have just under one GP for every 1,200 patients, Swale in Kent has only one GP for every 3,300 patients.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Demand for GP services is escalating both in terms of volume and complexity – and when this is compounded by falling GP numbers, it creates a perfect storm.”

”We need to see more measures implemented to genuinely tackle soaring workload as a matter of urgency and… make the working environment in general practice supportive and sustainable.”


Options for releasing time for GPs

There are options to help release more time for GPs, such as Active Signposting and Correspondence Management. The GP Forward View contains 10 High Impact Actions that aim to release time for general practice staff and GPs in particular.

Putting Active Signposting in place means giving reception staff the knowledge and confidence to understand patients’ needs, meaning they can signpost them to the most appropriate source of help or advice. That could include services in the community, as well as those provided by the practice.

Correspondence Management helps practices empower clerical staff to play a greater role in the navigation of patients through the care system.  All incoming correspondence about patients from hospitals is processed by a member of the clerical team, meaning GPs’ time is freed up because they deal with less clinical paperwork each day.

NHS England says that using Correspondence Management typically results in a reduction of 60-80% in the number of letters dealt with by GPs. Not only is more time freed up for GPs, clerical staff typically report a significant boost to their job satisfaction.


Award-winning primary care trainers Thornfields have comprehensive programmes help save time for GPs using Active Signposting and Correspondence Management. To learn more, please click here to visit our information page.


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