Cash boost for doctors

MORE than £1million ploughed into the county's Primary Care Trust could see the end of long waiting lists to see doctors and improve health services in the county.

By Jessica Nicholls

MORE than £1million ploughed into the county's Primary Care Trust could see the end of long waiting lists to see doctors and improve health services in the county.

But despite money being made available to employ 11 extra doctors in the county only four positions have actually been filled.

A national shortage of GPs has left the Suffolk's PCT struggling to fill the available posts but in the mean time are trying to cultivate partnerships with locum GP's to help with the shortage.

The new posts are part of a Primary Medical Services pilot scheme operating nationally which gives money to surgeries to tackle the problem of recruiting, help improve community services, get GP's and nurses working more closely as well as tackling health inequalities.

It is gradually being rolled out across the country and started in Ipswich at the beginning of October

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Ipswich PCT has just been awarded £1,156,610 as part of the new pilot and had planned on recruiting more salaried doctors, a step away from the traditional doctor who is a partner of the practice.

Salaried doctors represent radical changes in the world of GP's. The role is far more flexible than that of the partners whose time is often taken up with paper work and being on call throughout the night.

The salaried doctors can lighten the load of the traditional doctor meaning more patients can be seen and more time can be given to their needs, as well as relieving stress on the doctors themselves.

Extra money means that 13 nurse practitioners can be taken on who are more qualified than practice nurses.

They can also lighten the load of doctors by talking to patients by telephone to see if the appointment they need is urgent and can also give them advice about which medication to use for things like warts or some childhood illnesses.

Vivia Bamford, director of primary care and corporate services, said that recruitment was still on going to get more doctors to join the scheme.

She said: "It [the scheme] is working reasonably well so far although it is early and people are just getting used to how it works.

"The patients would not see any effects straight away but it is much more about how it develops over the next three years.

"It is up to the practice how they use their budget – it changes the basis on how they use their funding as they receive a whole practice budget rather than individual bits of money for different things."

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